Defining what ‘art’ is has always been an exercise in futility, but people will continue to do so as it is human nature to categorize and define. It is my belief that the physical presence of art is an artifact of the process. It is the creation and interpretation of art that has value. The medium, both literally and figuratively, is just a vector for communication. All of that said, I heard a recent description that resonated with me:
Art triggers emotion from the audience.
This definition appeals to me because it is simple, agnostic about medium or subject, and offers an explanation to the value of art to the audience. Art can often be seen as a selfish endeavor, and in many ways it is, isolating from the artist by the constant practice involved to the solitude required for creation. However, audiences continue to cherish art in its many mediums because it momentarily reminds them that they are alive and human, full of varied responses and connections to the world around us.