I never meant to imply that all conceptualized fine-art photos are technically poor, as that is not the case. However, poor technical quality is often excused or even <gasp> expected.
Of course, this raises the question as to what exactly defines "technical quality"? Are blown highlights indicative of bad technical quality? How about flat shadows or poor lighting? While I would think of them as extremely poor quality, a young post-modern photographer might say "so what?", they're not important to the message or the subject matter.
IMHO, those are nothing more than excuses, but I'm firmly rooted in the straight photography camp so my views are rather biased.
Still, I'm right
Chuck, I agree. You're right! And you raised the question of what defines "technical quality," something that needs to be addressed. In the late 1800s The French Salon was rejecting the Impressionists' work mainly because of its subject matter, but also because of its "quality." The paintings weren't properly glazed and you actually could see individual brush strokes! Yet it wasn't long before being able to see individual brush strokes in a painting was considered an indication of quality.
I think most photographers consider "sharpness" to be the main test of technical excellence, though as Alain pointed out the need for extreme sharpness applies mostly to f/64 type images, which I'd take to be landscape and architectural photographs. And yet, if you've ever looked at B&W magazine, or lately, Color magazine, you'll see what I'll call "landscapy" photographs that look as if the photographer dropped his camera before shooting or used Lensbabies to make the shots. The people at B&W and Color obviously considered these blurry jumbles to have enough technical excellence to be included in the magazines.
Then, with color, there's the question of color balance and saturation. I'd consider, and I'm sure you'd consider a shot that's been given a green sky in post-processing to exhibit something less than technical excellence. Yet, you probably can go to your local museum and see a photograph in which colors have been shifted far enough that a green sky would more or less be a return to normality. Every time I go to an "art fair" I see booth after booth with photographs in which the color saturation has been pushed high enough to make the result look like a Marlboro ad. I'm sure I've already told this story, but I'll tell it again: I know a guy who displays at art fairs. A couple years ago when I went to the local fair where he was displaying I told him I thought he was pushing his saturation too far. He replied, "Yes, and my sales have doubled." So the buyers obviously consider Marlboro-ad color saturation to be technical excellence.
As far as I'm concerned if I look at a painting or a photograph and get an unexpected jolt to my heart that goes beyond ordinary experience, it doesn't matter whether or not the object was executed with technical excellence. It's art!