What is ‘taste’? How do assumptions about ‘good’ and ‘bad taste’ affect our judgements about ways in which the visual arts are consumed? Explain what it means to say that ‘taste classifies the classifier ‘? There are two kinds of taste: biologically through the tongue, and also psychological preference. In this essay I will explain how these are linked and how the latter develops with experience. Good and bad tastes affect consumption of art because ‘good’ art usually sells, although it is not the same as popular art. Here, I will look at the masters and how they affected taste during the Renaissance. From this we can see where modern conventions of ‘good art’ have come from. For the third part of the question, I believe the ‘taste classifies the classifier’ can be interpreted in two different ways. It can mean that classifications and judgements are personal decisions, or it can be seen as in knowing the individuals classification of something we are able to classify that individual. In this final part I will argue the ambiguity of the question. What is taste? When we pass banana milkshake over our tongues, special receptors inform our brain that something in our mouth is sweet and tasty. What makes one thing taste nicer than the other is an unanswerable question.
However this is only one version of taste. What I am interested in is why someone finds a Monet more pleasing to the eye than a poster of a super model, or not. Fashion could make us like something more than another, like peer pressure. I believe that taste is personality, and I understand personality as Sigmund Freud theorized: personality is created from everything that has ever happen to the individual. Monet’s art is considered to be ‘good art’ and popular, because it has so many familiar images in the paintings. When a painting is looked at, light is reflected off the image and into the eye. It is then converted into the brains format, which we visualize in our mind. The brain specifically picks out certain shapes and colours, forms and subjects, as they are different or familiar depending on the individual. The reasons for the brains decision on which images are more attractive than others depend on other people influencing the individual and their environment. When we are created the first thing our eyes see are blurs and colours, we hear vague noises from outside the womb and we feel warm.
From here our mind and personality develop. When we are children our parents raise us and we our also taught things at school, while all of this is going on our mind teaching itself a personalised interpretation of the world. Good taste is information the mind likes to receive; these being those that it is familiar with and can relate ‘good’ things too. Biological taste follows rules also. If we do not like the taste liver, it is because the subconscious relates that taste to some bad experience/knowledge. For example, the individual may have once eaten liver and felt ill because the chemicals didn’t agree with their body. Or, it could be because the individual has been shown/told that liver tastes fowl, therefore the subconscious is relating liver to ‘bad taste’. In the case of mental taste, if we hear something is ‘good’ or fashionable then the mind relates that thing to ‘good’, this will inspire the conscious to follow up the decision. Classical art from the Renaissance is good art because we are forever told it is ‘good’. But taste is not as random as this; there must be logic behind it. The end of the Renaissance was also the end of the great Masters.
They were masters because they were intellectual and had great understanding of the world around. Individual subconscious’ listen to higher intelligence, the masters professionalism secured peoples believes of artists as highly intelligent and skilled people. Others with this reputation were doctors and the clergy, therefore respect for the artist grew the more professional they became. At the end of the Renaissance artists began to be widely classified by their skills; architects and artists, for example. Because of this the artists of the Renaissance were the last artists who officially had a wide range of skills and understanding. They were professionally more intellectual; therefore they knew how to create ‘good art’. The subconscious naturally recognises this and interprets it in a fraction of a second; we recognize these as ‘feelings’. But whether or not this ‘feeling’ is denied depends on if the individual has had some previous information/experience that had become more familiar to the mind than the notion that ‘this is good art’. I feel that frequent references to art, or anything, will encourage enjoyment from it.
The individual will only cease to like it if the mind interprets the thing as being associated with something ‘bad’. Our minds naturally classify everything to ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Our minds have the ability to evaluate the out comes of actions also. It maybe that the mind classifies something as bad (e.g. doing this essay when I could do nothing), but I am able to realise that in doing this essay my understanding and knowledge of the subject will improve, I realise this out come is ‘good’, so I do it. So what is the meaning of ‘taste classifies the classifier’? I feel this is best explained as an example: I do not like Kappa tracksuits, it reminds me of idiots playing their car stereo too load or starting fights. But even though I think Kappa is ‘bad’, the people who wear them think otherwise. In fact, they like them so much these people believe that they are the best clothes to wear. As I have given my opinion on the subject, or even because I used that example, a third party would then be able to make his or her own classification of me as he/she has learnt about my taste.
This applies to any gestures, accents, comments, jokes, etc. This is because our personalities are developed on experience; in knowing somebody’s experiences we are able to generally classify that individual. If someone’s personality shows certain relation to our self then we register that aspect as ‘good’. I feel the bottom line to this question is explained by Freud’s theories. Freud looked at Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings. He believed that by studying the piece he could understand it’s meaning by knowing the artist’s history. Every experience adds to the next thought and action, in understanding the artists history it is possible to attempt to understand the feelings of the subconscious. Freud put this theory to Da Vinci’s paintings believing that symbols in pictures are related to subconscious thought. With this theory, it is easier to understand how the mind and personality are closely linked, also the nature of the mind. Freudian theory does have a fault though; when a psychoanalyst’s study patients, their own subconscious thoughts are present, as I mentioned before with my opinion of tracksuits.
Therefore, when Freud believed he could understand the meaning of Da Vinci’s paintings, there is no way to tell if he were correct because his own subconscious played part in his explanations. The human mind is not capable of fully understanding another, so the meaning of ‘good taste’ is a tough one. But I feel in this case looking at it from an outside party, taste is based on common (to ones self) conventions and values, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. In conclusion, taste is directly linked to ones personality and experiences. The mind starts empty of thoughts and learns to survive. If an individual has many repeated influences then the mind automatically feels a tendency toward that thought. I feel the body also influences the mind; chemicals and hormones can affect the way we think. In affecting the way we think, our functional needs are changed. I believe this can be shown in cases of addiction.
When drinking alcohol, the individual subconscious knows that the drink will make them drunk because of this the conscious will become drunk after consuming the booze. If the mind knows that the booze will not make them drunk, then there is no reason why the conscious will act that way. In the case of an addict, repeated use of the drug means that the mind is experiencing the same influences again and again. In doing this, the individual subconscious has the tendency to approve the action. But in drinking alcohol, the mind experiences many points of view on the subject; other people put opinions in, both negative and positive.
Addictions stop when the mind has come to the solid conclusion that this would be for the best. Although this is an extreme example the same can be said about taste, because addiction is taste. I believe that Freud was correct when he said he could read into Leonardo’s paintings by knowing his history. If this is correct there must be a way of reversing this and understanding the art to understand the person, but because the mind cannot be translated the ambiguity of art is endless. I think this is the reason for the popularity of art and its importance in society; it is a source of ideas, or perhaps not a source, but a medium for the mind to contemplate things and ideas. These ideas are then passed on and taught to others, because of the status of art these ideas are perceived by the subconscious to be true, therefore eventually it will be truase.