I’ve been catching up with Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) on Netflix and what would you know, paintings are everywhere on the USS Enterprise. You’ll find paintings in living areas and offices, but not the bridge or engineering areas. Most are starry landscapes, and there’s no portraits to be found.
It’s odd, then, that in this future without portraits, paintings are made only by humans. Klingons do not make art (too war-driven), neither do Vulcans (too logical), and androids, well, they definitely can’t make art.
Just look at the almost-human character Data. In several TNG episodes, the crew’s android tries his hand at painting. And while Data’s landscapes aren’t disasters, they’re just boring, never more than technically skilled reproductions. In the world of Star Trek, art can’t be learned, it must be felt.
Even Klingons have their own opera, so it’s hard to believe painting retains a special human-only status. That’s just visual art, of course. Not once does conceptual art make an appearance, though maybe it evolved into other non-art forms in the future. I imagine Q, the continually evasive, comedic trickster that he is, to be a direct descendant from Bruce Nauman.