[237120, A1] Wk 3: Task 3 – Preparation Component A Draft 3 (Part 5)

The practice of the artist/designer is moulded by our exposure to visual imagery. Artists/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. This discussion aims to understand the extent of the impact that critical thinking has on the practices of the artist/designer. By analysing how context, methodology, and the changing view of the world impact the processes of critically thinking about visual text, we may assess its importance to the artist/designer.

Critically thinking about visual text begins with an understanding of the context in which it was created. This begs the questions of who/what/when/where/ and how the origins of the visual text 18khydnvc1lurjpghave informed the creation of the product, and for what purpose (Ruszkiewicz 33-34). John Ruszkiewicz reinforces the importance of context in critical thinking throughout his excerpt, “Reading Texts” (Ruszkiewicz 32-34). This can be seen in images such as the photograph adjacent. Without context, we see a black-and-white photograph of siblings posing. Knowing that the photograph is an example of Victorian post-mortem photography gives the image an entirely different mood, as we learn one or both girls depict
ed are corpses (Reilly).  We see the interpretation of visual texts as being a continuous process, as context holds 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/designer to 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.

However, context alone in the role of critical thinking cannot lead to a holistic understanding of a visual text. Critical thinking necessitates framework by which to thoroughly interpret the visual, for it to be of use to the artist/designer. Andrew Wallace describes such a framework in “Critical Thinking” (Wallace 45-50). By dividing 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/designer, as it shows critical thinking can lead to greater 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.  Nicholas Mirzoeff summarises this change in the statement, “Today, the world is young, urban, wired and hot” (Mirzoeff 5). In other words, visual media can now reach global scale, created and viewed by a different audience, depicting a different world (Mirzoeff 5). By critically thinking about the visual texts we are exposed to, artists/ designers may understand the influence of demographic on the production and interpretation of media. This is of great importance in understanding the relationship between the origins of visual texts and their reception by an audience.

Critical thinking allows for the progression of the artist/designer, refining our analyses of the process of creation and in turn, our own creations. Through understanding the role of context, methodologies and changing world view impact on the critical thinking processes involved in visual texts, we improve our body of work and broaden our view of the world.

Works Cited:

  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World: A Pelican Introduction. London: Pelican Books, 2015.
  • Reilly, Jill. Haunting Photographs of the Dead Taken in Victorian Age. 9 October 2013. Photograph. 21 March 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2450832/Victorian-photographs-relatives-posing-alongside-dead-bodies.html&gt;.
  • 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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