Are you actually volunteering to tell people what what is art and what is pornography? Please don't tell me that. It's like volunteering to be a target.
I've seen some Robert Mapplethorpe photographs that are profoundly disturbing in terms of my personal judgement of their subject matter ( as in Yuck!) but which I think are very good art. I wouldn't be able to live with the picture in my home, I would find it too disturbing an image, but I want it available for others to see or to look at myself if the mood strikes.
About your jackhammer example, you may know the piece by John Cage which involves rolling an airplane engine on stage and turning it on. A piston engine, as I recall it. I think you may be underestimating the power of framing in the definition of things in general and art in particular.
While I am particularly fond of Michelangelo's "The Last Judgement," for example, I would imagine there are people around who would consider it pornographic because of it's sadomasochistic content and might consider censorship appropriate. Think of the terrible effect it might have on young children. Imagine the violence it might spur them to. Imagine the violence that such images and such writings have already done over the past 1500 years. No wonder we have so much trouble with our youth these days. All this talks about last judgement and the violence God does to sinners and punishment. You get the idea. I'm only half-kidding here.
Folks are very fast about the ascription of evil.
About photographs: I have a friend who is a very fine visual artist. She has done some very fine drawing; very fine, I could never afford them, some collages and photographs as well.
When I take a photograph, I'm lucky if anything comes out at all. I have no sense of composition, balance, color, anything. I remember stopping with Carla at the top of a hill overlooking Boston. She hopped out of the car, pulled out a camera, looked at the view for about ten seconds, then snapped her photograph. While she knows how to do her own developing, she had this one done commercially. I wouldn't have been able to get that shot if I'd have stood there all day with limitless film and forty cameras to choose from, and I know it. She had skill, experience and talent in the visual arts. She was an artist, I wasn't. Maybe I will be someday, who knows? But I sort of doubt it.
How is crass pornography art?
That depends on your frame of reference, doesn't it? Beautiful image or sadomasochistic nightmare, depending on your frame, could describe either Michelangelo or Mapplethorpe, though I have to grant that the consensus is pretty heavily weighted. If you're honest, though, and look at "The Last Judgement," you have to acknowledge that Michelangelo wanted it very very clear that those sinners were going to suffer in graphic and severe fashion and he wants the viewer to feel a portion of that pain. Furthermore, he wanted the people of his time to know exactly who some of those sinners were going to be; there are apparently recognizable portraits there. In addition to it's enormous spiritual value, it's a cruel and bitter piece of work.
And behind all those bizarre images that Mapplethorpe is putting on display, the thing that he's trying to get across more than anything else is that there's a current of love and affection that runs through these nightmare scenes. For me, they're nightmarish, I should say. It's much the same with some of the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud.
What do you think; Have I been too outrageous here or is this a reasonable line of thinking? I'm thinking about the education material. Best to you and your family, BobK.