I hate tomatoes. I've always hated them. And I suspect that I always will. As you get older, some foods you grow to like the taste of, but for me, tomatoes and I are destined to be enemies. My best friend on the other hand loves them. He'll bite into a ripe tomato as if it where an apple and thoroughly enjoys it. And although I certainly do not share his affinity for tomatoes, somewhere back in the recesses of my brain it is possible for me to conceive the idea that other people enjoy the taste of them, even if I don't.
I think its safe to say that similar experiences can be said for all of our senses. Taste, touch, sound, & scent are easy senses to draw comparisons between each of our own likes and dislikes. And to a greater degree, I believe it's easier for all of us to relate to these shared experiences through the emotions they create. Chocolate for instance, is an easy one to understand. Most of us delight in a chocolate based treat from time to time and we can share this experience with each other through the understanding that the sensations and emotions that are produced from eating chocolate will be similar for you, as it is for me. But what if someone didn't like the taste of chocolate? Believe it or not, I once worked with a girl that didn't like the taste of chocolate and peanut butter together! Gasp! Can you imagine that?
Our senses create emotions and feelings as we react to the world around us. Whether it is the music we hear, the food we eat, the odours we smell or the way in which we interact with each other through touch. But what about sight? The problem with sight, as I see it (no pun intended), is that it is impossible to see the world though someone else's eyes. The feelings and emotions that are produced from visual stimulus is directly related to our individual life experiences. Although it should probably be said that no two people will experience any emotions created by our senses exactly the same way, we at least have some common ground to draw from when relating to each other. In large part, our similar shared experiences based on sensory input can be attributed the common biology we all share. But we do not share our life experiences. You have not seen what I have seen over the course of a lifetime and therefor, it is impossible to share that experience with me.
These life experiences will ultimately have an impact on the 'tastes' we develop. Whether it's taste in music, literature or art. Tastes in clothes, cars, or furniture. Even the tastes we develop for certain types of people, physical appearances or personalities. The interesting observation here is that it is completely and totally useless for people to argue about taste, but yet we do it all the time. It happens quite frequently in the art world and in particular with media that are created for visual stimulus such as paintings, sculpture or photography. Our feelings and emotions that are created by our sensory inputs are as subjective as the art itself. I have no more right to tell you how to 'feel' about a particular piece of art than I do to tell you that you should or shouldn't like the taste of tomatoes. How ridiculous and asinine would it be for me to tell you that if you like the smell of vanilla, then you're horrible person, that there is obviously something morally wrong with you and that liking the smell of vanilla is just plain wrong. Yet people do this very thing on photographs and art pieces without thinking twice. If it is absurd for me to condemn you based on your preference for certain tastes, smells, or sounds, then why is it not equally absurd for me to condemn you for your preference for certain visual stimuli like photographs or paintings?
I'm trying really hard not to wage into the whole art vs. porn debate, but this is ultimately what has sparked my ramblings today. Peoples opinions about what is art, and what is porn are based on how they feel about the images they see. It is the very same thing as how peoples opinions vary on what is better Coke or Pepsi. It's all based on your own personal taste. And in this particular case, those tastes are inevitably linked to ethics and morality. If you don't like what you see, stop looking at it and move on. Telling me that I should feel a certain way about the art that I choose to view and create is as useless and telling me that I should like the taste of tomatoes. And you wouldn't do that.... would you?