In this interview Prinz provides a definition that answers the question – what is an art object? His definition is hinged upon the idea that what makes a thing 'art' is that thing's ability to produce a particular kind of emotional response in a viewer or beholder. This emotion is Wonder: "an art object is a production that you recognise to be in the business of producing wonder".
But that's not art to me!
For me this definition gets around the problem of widely differing opinions of what objects in the world can be included in the category of 'art object'. All we need do is recognise that a production before us was intended to be or happens to be in the wonder producing business. In the contemporary art world it seems anything can be art or be assigned as art by an artist. The emphasis on an emotion (wonder) in Prinz's statement can get us out of another common problem. The problem of how to judge what is a successful artwork and just how good is it relative to other art of all kinds? Using Prinz's statement we only need recognise it as being in the Wonder producing business. If it is, it can now be judged to be an artwork and its successfulness is judged by its effectiveness at the task of producing an emotional response in a viewer. E.g. "It is an art object and it's not a very successful one for me".
What about art as social/political activism?
For me this is the next logical question to ask when testing the usefulness of Prinz's definition. Wonder is the emotion of amazement , surprise, astonishment and awe. It is also the state of being curious and contemplative - to question. If art shocks, surprises and astonishes enough to send us into a contemplative state where new patterns of thought are produced, then the art is a success as activism and also wonder is arguably still the primary emotion at play.