I've come across this question far too often lately. Possibly the most pointless question you could ask, which when put to certain argumentative types, will lead to a never ending debate with Tracy Emin and co. being offered up as examples. That question is, 'What is art?' We'll begin with a story that can immediately put it to bed:

In 1926, the Romanian sculptor, Constantin Brâncuşi, transported a shipment of his sculptures to the New York harbor. Accompanying him was a founder of the Dada movement, Marcel Duchamp, and the American photographer Edward Steichen. They ended up going to court with US customs over the sculpture pictured below, entitled 'Bird in Space'.

This was because US customs' response to this sculpture was that it was not art because it did not look like a bird, so they imposed a tariff worth thousands on it as a manufactured metal object, rather than a work of art, which would have been duty-free. Needless to say, Brâncuşi, Duchamp and Steichen were a little bit miffed. However, they won the court case simply because Brâncuşi, when asked by lawyers why it was a work of art, replied that it was because he said so. He had made it with the intention of it being art and for no other purpose.

An even more contemporary way of addressing that painful question as painlessly as possible would be to look at the group known as EL Enigma de la Fruta

Primarily based in Madrid, these hyperactive performers have given daft conferences and put on street shows where their only aim has been to get people to have fun together. Call this a cheesy statement, but they see no difference between art and life, and that is beautiful.

Art and life. I saw these lines blurring when the performance artist, Richard Layzell, gave a seminar last Wednesday about his Route Planner. This was a map where he had looked at a connection between different locations he had visited and different works he had made in the past several years.

Above, we see the filming of 'Falling Phoebe', where he had asked a student, named Phoebe, to re-enact a moment in the life of his great-grandmother, also called Phoebe, where she fell over while walking along the street in Colchester where some of his family dates back several generations.

So, 'What is Art?' has developed into 'Art and Life' in this brief digest. Hopefully that has made many vague questions in your life seem less banal.