Where Do We Draw The Line?

Upon researching some other intersections between artistry and the digital age, I am across an article titled, “Artistry versus machine: Is artistry dying in dentistry and dental labs?” Written by Craig A. Pickett, this article argues that new technologies are cutting out the hand craft of dentistry. He also argues that these machines cannot compare to the craft that is dentistry by hand. Pickett briefly talks about the history of the art was developed for teeth whiting and even says, “Some of the teeth we see in patients are created much more in the Picasso or Seurat style (if you stand back a bit you can see it) than in a form and style we would recognize as artistically created restorative teeth.” His main concern in this article seems to be focused on the fact that technology is ruining the original artistry. He says, “Through automation we’ve been able to produce more in less time, produce more consistently, and produce for a lower price, but in many cases we’ve sacrificed some of the art.”

While reading this article, I couldn’t help but laugh, which is precisely the reason I chose this to discuss in relation to my blog topic. The question that immediately came to mind, as this post is titled, is where do we draw the line? Where is the line between artistry and ridiculousness? if we cannot call self published writers authors (“Self publishing is corrupt”) can we call all professions that require skills art? So which profession makes the cut off? Of course, dentistry takes a skill, but skills and talents are different: one can be learned and one can be developed. Talents could be learned as well, but someone who was not talented to being with probably couldn’t learn the talent to the same extent as a talented person would. Obviously, there are exceptions, but that’s usually the idea.

An interesting distinguishment to make between a talent and a skill is defined on this website. This website defines a talent as “the ability by a person that is inherent, inborn, or naturally occurring. A talent is said to be a special ability to do something without prior experience, study, or tutelage.” They define a skill as the “ability that is learned and practiced for a period of time. A skill is an acquired or obtained ability which is often the result of constant performance and improvement on a particular task or behavior.” Both seem like good definitions to me until I read the next paragraph, which begins with, “Skills are often taught and considered as a demonstrated talent.” I think talents and skills overlap, but not in this way. If anything, a talent is a skill that is naturally inherited, and a skill is the ability to learn to do something well.

This overlap is interesting because by their statement, dentistry is a talent, it’s a form of art. I have to say I disagree, but what do you think? Where do we draw the line between artistry and other professions?


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