A friend posed a striking philosophical question: can something be beautiful if it isn’t seen? Obviously the answer is no which made me think that maybe there was more to the question so I started rambling about whether a tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear it makes a sound. And there obviously the answer is no, although the tree falling does create the potential for sound–that is, it vibrates the air in a way that would be perceived as sound if anyone were around to hear it, unless the tree falls in a vacuum. That’s all a matter of physics, though, whereas the question of beauty is a matter of metaphysics. And it is an interesting question, one that brings to mind the heavy philosophy of Roland Barthes who, in his essay The Death Of The Author, considered the role of the reader, or, in the case of art, the role of the spectator, in creating the work. It’s a cooperative process, and in the case of graffiti it becomes multilayered. The utilitarian object, mass-produced, is repurposed as a canvas and made unique. And what is beauty, anyway? Clearly it’s subjective, neither universal nor measurable, with no specific standard.
That was probably a longer answer than he wanted.