Ahaha. Ahahahah. AHAHAHAHA:
Shigeru Watanabe (a psychologist at Keio University in Tokyo and possibly a man in league with the birds) set up a nefarious experiment. Watanabe showed children’s paintings to pigeons; a panel of adults had deemed each work either good or bad. He trained the pigeons to distinguish between them with a system of tasty rewards. When the pigeons pecked correctly, he gave them some seed. Later, he presented 10 paintings to the birds they had never seen. Five of these paintings had been deemed good by humans, five bad. The pigeons recognized the good paintings as “good” twice as often as they recognized the “bad” paintings. In short, they came off as pretty good critics.
There’s more, including references to Clement Greenberg, a man who must be spoken of in hallowed tones for no reason whatsoever.
The article ends with the right attitude – that the role of critics is in helping people appreciate things they might not otherwise – but I can’t help thinking this is something of a pipe dream. After all, it’s much more fun to decry other people’s tastes; that or give up any pretence at caring and just be vile.