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I argue with some of my artist friends about creating a numerical measure for the quality of a work of art. They claim that artworks are too individual to be quantified. I have been creating a chart for measuring beauty based on specific qualities that I feel are measurable, and then each of the qualities will be given a numerical value. When that is done the various works may be measured and weighted and the whole group may be added together. That will give a single numerical value. It sounds a bit contrived, but after a large number of items have been subjected to this treatment I suspect that there will arise a generally agreed-upon belief that there is an aesthetic core beneath artworks for humans. It would differ for other species. There are aesthetic judgments being made by birds like the Bower birds of New Guinea, and by bees, here in Bend, when choosing flowers to inspect.

I will show a shortlist of the artistic qualities that can be measured, but first here is a chart I created for measuring Pain. It gives a much better measure than what you have probably encountered in a medical doctor’s office because it gives objective things that can be observed and quantified

Probaway Pain Scale

Pain Scale – For measuring the intensity of human pain; click to enlarge.

Aesthetic beauty has more dimensions than physical pain and therefore will have a longer columnar list of qualities. For example, the aesthetic sub-quality SKILL can be measured as going from a work filled with wobbly mistakes measured as an ESTH~1 on to one filled with masterful strokes, ESTH~14. PERSEVERANCE can be measured as a partially begun work that was abandoned, ESTH~1, to a work that required many strokes and filled the space to the point where everything is perfectly used to completion. That might be measured as an ESTH~14.

I have been working on a list of qualities that include, EMOTION, THOUGHT, INVENTIVE, ARTISTICALLY AGGRESSIVE, RISKY, CLEAR, DISTINCT, CULTURALLY ASTUTE, MOTIVATIONAL, RARITY, SALES VALUE.

There will be other qualities on the final list and then these can be judged down to a more workable list and standardized. Retch, everyone reading this will say, probably in a loud voice.

And yet, this chart when completed will help artists create better works, because it will be easier for them to judge where they might place additional effort.

This blog will be a talking point one of these days.