Maybe not many read the letter I penned some three years ago, saying that the individuals designated as judges of visual arts competitions continue to have faults. I point to the fact that the enlistment of judges continues to include some whose knowledge of the visual arts and their creation lacks the expertise required to select what is good art, and what is not. A particular concern is the fact that these established selection committees seem incapable of deducing the difference between a computer generated photograph and an actual drawing. This lack of knowledge forces me to submit that the ability to differentiate what is actually visual arts, and what is technical science must be present before a judgement can be made. A photograph enhanced by a computer should remain what it is ‒ a photograph ‒ and should never be categorized as a drawing or a painting. Perhaps a category for computer generated photographs could be introduced in the competitions.
Secondly, judges of visual arts should be knowledgeable about how visual art is created. True, in today’s world, barriers are being removed to allow for virtual reality, but guidelines must still retain a grip on proven principles. Mind you, my thoughts are neither to be considered a metaphysical argument about newness, or a claim about the usefulness of newness. For I am aware that at the end of every day comes a new day. But we have to keep our eyes on the road ahead and not have newness mislead us, especially when the newness presented is fraudulent.
Visual language is rapidly evolving. But placing a scientifically enhanced fool-the-eye photograph in another category is the same as calling art a swindle, which will fool the creator of such works into thinking themselves an artist, and demean the traditional artist. Being an artist today covers many fields: a singer is now an artist, a photographer, a dancer. Art seems now to have become a culture of doubt and curiosity, a multiplicity of confusing distinctions. My criterion insists that whenever anyone is placed in the position to pass judgment, their knowledge should be impeccable. Now, what do these judges look for in a work of art? There are some with a knowledge of visual arts but without the knowledge of judging the work of others. These that I speak of examine entries by looking for personal visual language to do with the philosophical expressions of vision. That method of reviewing art is applicable only when assessing the lifetime output of an artist, and should not be employed when judging a biennial competition especially.
Two years is a long period of time for an active artist, and his technique and philosophical visual language will no doubt change as he develops. When the artist stays too long on a theme, it shows stagnation and not progress. No judge should compare how he or she works to that of another artist when judging a competition. For as I have said before, in a competition, merit should be the major criterion; the best works should be the prize winner’s. And nowhere in all my travels have I heard that all entries submitted by an artist must be in the same style.
Now, let us examine the knowledge of an art collector who is designated a judge of art in a competition. Would their selection be trustworthy? The possibility exists that this individual may know very little of what is good art. He or she in being a collector, looks at a work of art, likes it, has the money, and buys it. Buying a collection does not enable a brain to recognize the mood the work communicated, nor the plastic quality of execution, the composition, the colour impact, the style and content of the work. These are important factors that contribute to the success or failure of a work of art when it is included in a judgement-based art competition. The same goes for a dancer selected to judge a work of art, or anyone else who has not had an education in the visual arts. It is therefore my steadfast opinion that visual arts should be judged solely by visual artists, or non-artists who have in the past proven their mettle dealing with the creation of visual arts. After all, the viable criterion should be much more than what is ‘liked’ to what is technically outstanding art. I have seen too many computer generated works in among competition prizes under the heading of ‘drawing’, and this should not be. For the computer technician uses the stored knowledge of someone else, rather than his own. This attempt to fool the truth should be curtailed.