Could you expand, though, on why intent should matter even in the slightest? I understand the relevance to commercial imagery. But in art art? Is it any more relevant in this regard than, say, an artist's statement is to the exhibition or an author's foreword to a novel?
An image is usually more effective if you have in mind some kind of mood or emotion or story that you intend the viewer to experience when seeing the image. It could be something like "wow, that's a cool pattern of shapes", or "that's disgusting" or "I want to go there and be at peace with nature for a while" or any of many other things. You may fail to communicate the intent you had in mind, but if you are thinking about an intent while shooting, you're more likely to engage the viewer with something than simply getting a "ho-hum, I'm moving on to the next" reaction. Let me give you some examples:
My intent with this image was to offer a "different" perspective of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO, something the viewer would have to look at a bit to figure out what he/she is seeing, but then say "oh, cool, I've never seen the Arch like that before".
My intent here was to capture a whimsically distorted image of a children's playground; taking something fairly ordinary and giving it a bit of a Dr Seuss interpretation.
My intent here was to explore the idea of remembering the past and learning from it, with a view to avoiding past mistakes. The image is of the building where I work, which was originally built by the Nazis as an officer's mess hall. The stonework has been left alone as a reminder of why we're here.
How well I succed at communicating my intent is open to interpretation, but having an intent when shooting this images made each one of them better.