"If the artist intends it to be art then it is art" may be what art theory claims, but I don't know if that's rooted in sound logic at all. By that definition, Ancient Greek sculptures may or may not be art--we don't know, because the artists are dead, therefore their intent will never be known to us.
Not entirely accurate. Art history is pretty well recorded. Even without it, you can deduce an artistic piece's purpose through where it is placed and how it was being used. Sculptures being used as relics inside of temples, tombs being decorated with carvings, etc. Besides, contextually speaking, Greek Classicism existed long before the philosophies of modern art came around -- before then, the theory and principles of art remained relatively unchallenged. Modern art completely revolutionized the way we view art today and is exactly why we're even having this discussion. Art was largely considered ONLY the byproduct of an artist's skilled hand for a large number of years -- as a consequence rather than a process or experience.
Truthfully, there's no easy answer as to whether or not if just anyone considers something art, that it's art. Actually, if you asked me, I might cleverly disagree -- Once a singular audience member decides something is art, they have interfered and...they have created art, which makes them indirectly an artist. It may not work under all circumstances, but I think it's interesting to think about in theory.
What if someone creates something by accident, then after the fact decides that it is art? When is the intention that is imbued in the final product relevant? The way you describe what does or does not make something art, basically removes it from any intrinsic quality. There's no way of detecting with what intent it a particular object was created, and even as the artist, how can you know your own intent? I mean you can say, yes, I intended this to be art, so therefore it is, but if you made your thoughts more precise, the question becomes, what is your definition of art that you applied to that intention?
That's the issue with modern art. There are whole subsets of modern art devoted to empowering the common man with the knowledge that he, too, is an artist; whole philosophies that attempt to inject more art into life instead of the other way around. Modern art has both valued and devalued itself -- Greenberg tried to define 'high art' and instead got a bunch of reactionary movements made in his wake that ironically became the very definition of what we consider high art.
If two people with ideas about what art is create art, who really created art? They're doing fundamentally different tasks when it comes down to it because the term "art" is just a symbol that refers to that definition in their mind. It has no actual meaning, it's a placeholder
They both did, and you're right. That's the whole scope of the modern art movement -- how do we constrain art? You can write off various works as being, in your opinion, "not real art", and that's fine, but it's a view that's tailored to your tastes and your belief of what art is, which therefore makes it only a limited scope that does nothing to universally define it. Actually, many artists theorized this view, as well -- Rene Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" is a good example; a picture of a pipe with a simple caption: "This is not a pipe". It's fundamentally taking objects and stripping them of the definition we think of them as. If it's not a pipe, then what is it? Within an individual piece, the artist invites you to, for a moment, take his word for it. It's not a pipe.
Is there any practical dimension added to an object by the artist's labeling of it as art? Nope. Does the object undergo any detectable change? Nope. Being told something is supposed to be art may influence the way we perceive that object, but that has nothing to do with the artist's intent, as much as the perspective by which we glance at that object.
Art is not intrinsically practical, and sure calling something art doesn't change its physical properties by itself, but it has EVERYTHING to do with the artist's intent. People see things all the time and say "I could've done that" (I'm guilty, as you well know), but the fact is, they didn't, and even if they did, their intent, their purpose for doing it may have been different and the end results would have thus changed. Intent changes the way something is displayed, changes the context of the object. That's half the fun/infuriation of modern art. A vacuum is a common household object, nothing special, its value mundane -- but when Jeff Koons placed some under fluorescent lights and a glass case, it became a piece of art that was put on display in various museums and pondered. The very value of the vacuum was changed because one man decided it was art; its function is no longer to clean and serve as a forgettable prop in your closet, but to be admired and valued, on the same level as the Mona Lisa or an old fresco -- its practicality was stripped away completely and now it sits uselessly under glass and security as a coveted piece of art. Isn't it ironic?
I think the question "is x art" is very similar to the question "is x a joke." You can't universally define a joke, because doing so would require you make it formulaic, which by its very definition defies what humor is. Humor is quirkiness; deviation from normality in a way that causes the human mind to pick up on that difference, and thus be appreciative of that change. Because definitions of normal change from person to person, what's funny to one person isn't to another, but that doesn't mean comedy doesn't exist or that humor is defined by the intent of the person creating it (or else that fat kid playing with a lightsaber wouldn't have been a youtube sensation).
Of course you can't define it. I don't disagree with this in the least, and that's why art is such a strange, pretentious, confusing, ridiculous subject to discuss. Most people look at a vacuum under a pile of glass and say "...but it's just a vacuum," but others (and I hate to say it, but usually it's people who HAVE studied modern art and are starting to "get it") understand that intent is precisely WHY that vacuum is art.
It isn't the artist that determines what is or isn't art, it's the observer. The first person who wrote their name on the toilet and claimed it was art wouldn't have had any success if other people didn't accept their claim, though I suppose that it would still be art to them.
You're right, and if nobody would've given a shit about a urinal with a pseudonym on it mounted on the wall (and believe me, a lot of people didn't), it would've likely fallen into relative obscurity. But consider the context of the times: until then, art's purpose was as pretty objects to look at with occasional symbolism, but was largely used as decoration and only considered art if it required the artist to make it himself (this is also later challenged in modern art by Sol LeWitt). But nonetheless, it's all heavily subjective -- you don't consider it art, but the fact that even one person does makes it so and that's why it's art, even if you don't believe it is. It's like the world's biggest loophole. Do you hate art yet? Hahahahaha...
There is no objective definition of art. Claiming a particular medium or object isn't art is about as senseless as arguing that red is a superior color to blue. People who put forth such arguments are typically attempting to glorify one medium or work over another for the sake of ego. "Well I like the color blue more than red, therefore blue is definitely better than red."
Does this mean that all art is equal? Yes and no, again it depends on your perspective. If you want something that's accessible for the sake of success and profit, you're going to want art that has qualities that make it easy to relate to. Some people use art simply to entertain others and others are looking to utilize it as a way to make a statement. It depends entirely on your goal.
Skill still exists even when you move to a relativistic mindset. A good artist is someone who is effective at creating art which does whatever they intended it to, much like how a good communicator conveys a message well, and a good comedian makes people laugh.
You hit it exactly here.
p.s. So the question isn't "are video games art?" It's, "are video games entertaining?" If this guy's definition of art is emotional, moving, powerful narrative and imagery, then maybe video games don't succeed at doing that in his estimation. But I assure you that there are people who disagree (myself included). The question is kind of pretentious and silly ultimately, this is the sort of debate that you'd see on a gamefaqs forum arguing whether Final Fantasy XIII or Mass Effect 2 is better (not that we've sunk to that level, I'm just criticizing that guy's blog).
His definition of art only acknowledges the likes of the art which sets out to do just that. There is art which sets out explicitly NOT to do that. I guess this is really just an argument that goes in circles.