[237120, A1] Wk 3: Task 3 – Preparation Component A Draft 2 (Part 4)

The practice of the artist and designer is moulded by our exposure to visual imagery. Artists and designers interpret our surroundings and express this perspective to an audience through a variety of media. This is accomplished through critically thinking about the onslaught of the visual in our culture; by filtering through the surface to find deeper meaning through context. However, without an understanding of the context, methodology, and purpose of the visual text, information falls through the cracks and is lost to the audience. This discussion aims to understand the extent of the impact that critical thinking has on the practices of the artist and designer. By analysing how context, methodology, and the changing view of the world impact the process of critically thinking about visual text, we may fully assess its importance to the artist and designer.

Critically thinking about visual text begins with an understanding of the context in which it was created.   In order to gain insight into why critical thinking informs the artistic and design processes, it is first necessary to examine how. This begs the questions of who/what/when/where/ and how the origins of the visual text have informed the creation of the product, and for what purpose (Ruszkiewicz 33-34). John Ruszkiewicz reinforces the importance of context in critical thinking extensively throughout his excerpt entitled “Reading Texts” (Ruszkiewicz 32-34). In this, we see the interpretation of visual texts as being a continuous process, as context holds possible interpretations in flux (Ruszkiewicz 34). Thus, critical thinking about visual texts through the lens of context is invaluable to inform the artistic and design processes. It allows the artist or designer to better appreciate the impact that the origins of work has on the product, which aids in analysing the works of others and prompts reflection on our own body of works.

However, context alone in the role of critical thinking cannot lead to a holistic understanding of a visual text. Critical thinking necessitates structure and framework by which to thoroughly interpret the visual, for it to be of greater use to the artist or designer. Andrew Wallace describes such a framework in his text entitled “Critical Thinking” (Wallace 45-50). By dividing up critical thinking into the subsets of creative thinking, analysing, problem-solving, reasoning, and evaluating, Wallace provides methodology by which to glean the most information from visual texts (Wallace 46-47). The existence of methodologies by which to empirically interpret visual texts lends academic value to critical thinking. This supports the importance of critically thinking about visual texts to the artist and designer, as it shows critical thinking can lead to more complete understanding of the role of the visual in our surroundings.

The context of visual texts and methodologies we use to understand would remain static, if not for the changing world view of their audiences. While the artistic process can be consciously manipulated through understanding of context and the processes of critical thinking, it is the subconscious influences on the artist and designer which have greatest impact. Nicholas Mirzoeff describes this in depth in his book How to See The World; how image editing and the mass spread of visual imagery in everyday life has changed the way we relate to images (Mirzoeff 1-11). Mass media has distorted the way we see the world around us due to image editing, as the vast majority of the global population are fed filtered images daily which provide an inaccurate view of their surroundings. Mass exposure to images doesn’t necessarily equate to a greater understanding of the subject depicted in those images. This knowledge is important to consider throughout the critical thinking process as an artist or designer, as we are forced to consider perspectives influencing production which are deeply entrenched in social norms to the point of invisibility. By acknowledging influences on art and design practices, we are better able to analyse the inspirations for the works of others and represent a true vision of the world in production.

Critical thinking allows for the progression of the artist and designer, refining our analyses of the process of creation and in turn, our own creations. Looking closely and thinking critically about visual texts is crucial in informing art and design practice through expanding perspectives in both analysis and production of works. By understanding how context aids in analysis of works, artists and designers may utilise structured critical thinking in order to provide informed opinion and understanding of how the origins of the work feed its purpose. Thus, critical thinking fuels the art and design practices to describe the world in the form of visual text.

Works Cited:

  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World: A Pelican Introduction. London: Pelican Books, 2015.
  • Ruszkiewicz, John J et al. “Reading Texts.” Beyond Words: Cultural Texts for Reading and Writing. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, c.2012. 9-39. Print.
  • Wallace, Andrew et al. “Critical Thinking .” Beginning University: Thinking, Researching and Writing for Success. St Leonards, N. S. W.: Allen & Unwin, 1999. 45-50. Print.
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