I have always been interested more in an artists bad takes versus their critically acclaimed ones. Does a shitty album ruin the artists credentials? Does one bad painting ruin an entire work? I think collectively, no. There is a space where objectively not great work made by great artists exist.
A tangible manifestation of this is pop culture. If we take Halo as a series, the first run under Bungie was great though once 343 took over the series has had a series of shaky releases. Star Wars is another good example as the first trilogy was great, the prequel trilogy was mediocre, only redeeming itself in the last entry.
This cycle of media reminds me of software, media in 2018 is not ever truly finished. I release a podcast, record more later, and then splice it in. I can update the file and now anyone going further will get the new version. 343 can continuously patch Halo 5 turning it into a great experience years later.
With regards to music, Kanye is the prime example of this with The Life Of Pablo and the albums many iterations. Even for writing, stories like ReZero1 changed from the rough drafts posted online to the final version in books.
Art is now continuous. The problem becomes “bad art” is shipped more often.
For the sake of this piece, “bad art” is going to be defined as “art made without care from the creator put into it.” For example, Destiny 2 is art, though I would consider the game bad art because Bungie knowingly shipped a version of the game which was lacking in features.
I can make a podcast that abruptly ends halfway through with the promise that I will get to the rest later, it isn’t a podcast worth much to the listener because they are getting their time disrespected. While not many metrics can be used to objectively rate art, the metric of time spent and fulfillment from their time is a valid one.
This leads us to an even more strange place, what becomes of art which is criticized and changes in response to that criticism. Once again I am going to refer to video games as they’re the best examples for this2.
No Mans Sky shipped a game with potential and promise, now two years later it is an arguable whole new game. Should this new version of No Mans Sky be judged by the current version, the original version, or the distance between the two? How can we talk about art when it changes based off of the conversations we have about said art? The conversations we are having are the wrong ones.
If the game changes, then our judgements of the game should not be definite. When the mixing of the album is changed and our libraries get automatically updated with the new version that also has two new songs, is it enough to warrant viewing is as a different album?
In my own writing and podcasts, I have been trying to take this into consideration when I judge. A conversation that focuses more on feelings and how this piece of art affects us personally is the conversation I try to have. There isn’t much worth in discussing pure technical merit when technicalities can change on a whim. Rather focusing on our emotions and how this current version of the art affects us is a better conversation.
I can hate the shipping version of Halo 5 but love the current release. The original version of The Life Of Pablo can be mixed like garbage, but the current version is tight and concise3.
Emotions change, people change, and art changes with it.
- The original webcomic which led to the light novel which then lead to the anime. ↩︎
- Though to be entirely fair, so is Star Wars and Blu-ray releases of Anime versus the version that shipped for the original TV release. ↩︎
- I know Kanye West is extremely problematic, but in the music sphere he’s the only great example of someone going back and adjusting an album post release. ↩︎