237.130 A1 Week 3 – Draft 2

Q: Explain why the process of looking closely and thinking critically about visual texts is important to art and design practices

In order to answer this question, I think it’s first appropriate to think about and explain the idea of ‘critical thinking’; what does it require of us? What does it do for us? “The term critical thinking in a broad sense can include all of the following: Creative thinking; Analysing; Problem-solving; Reasoning; Evaluating” (Wallace et al. 46). So, firstly, becoming a critical thinker requires these things of us: we must begin to think laterally and think about things in a variety of ways. “Doing something critically, in a critical way, means that you consider it actively, you engage with it” (Annals & Cunnane 15). To think critically is to engage your brain, and ultimately this will allow us more options when it comes to assessing, valuing and judging our own and others’ work, as well as creating artwork that involves a deeper thought process.

Thinking critically about visual texts is key in forming our own art practice, and making sure our art is relevant and meaningful. An example of this is Nick Kapica; in a lecture for the Communications in Creative Cultures paper, he revealed to us his working methods. He takes photos of visual texts around the world within the urban landscape, and collates these for future use. He assesses the visual aspects of each image and uses elements he finds interesting. The critical thinking here is key in not only assessing the material, but in being able to look for it in the first place. Often when you look at a space or an object, we don’t think of it as a visual text, but thinking  critically and creatively you open yourself up to a range of possibility for what a visual text, and essentially art, can be. Within our own art practice this will allow us to think broadly about what could be art – and different ways of saying that. In the same way, when we find a visual text, critical thinking allows us to ask different questions and find out more about the text; who’s the intended audience? What was the initial reception from this audience? How does the work use artistic conventions to convey an idea? In doing this, we learn to apply these questions to our own work, and so make it more purposeful.

An important aspect of thinking critically is context, and its ability to change the way and depth with which we see a visual text. As an analogy, take Migrant Mother, the most famous photograph to come out of the great depression, by Dorothea Lange:

Lange, Dorothea. The Migrant Mother. 1936. Prints and Photographs Div., Lib. of Congress. Dorothea Lange: Photographer of the People. Web. 23 March 2016. 

In itself, photography is the documentation of a time, feeling and/or emotion. Without knowing the desperation of the Great Depression, would this image have as much impact? In “Reading Texts”, Ruszkiewicz and co suggest that, “Uncovering the context of a work breathes new life into it.” (Ruszkiewicz et al. 34). Context becomes key to assessing the importance and relevance of art and design because, “We read every text wanting to know how it connects with the world, both now and in the past.” (Ruszkiewicz, et al. 32). The reason context is such an important part of thinking critically is that it is the most human way we connect with the artwork and this is a valid way of assessing – although we want to think critically and make sure that the processes undertaken in making the art are “logical and convincing” (Wallace et al. 47), the relevance to society of an artwork will always remain an important part of how we value and assess work.



237.130 A1 Week 3 – Draft 1


  • Explain critical thinking. What does it require? What does it do for us?


Reference: Wallace, Schirato, Bright. “Critical Thinking” – use quotes from here; their idea of what makes up critical thinking. The idea that critical thinking makes us better students and artists – why? Releases us from normal thinking paradigms?

Nick Kapica: How thinking critically allows him to see visual texts within urban landscapes and form there analyse them and use them as material for his own ideas. – seen from the field trip experience. It’s surprising how much you can think about a site when you sit down and just think critically about it.              


  • How does thinking critically about others’ art inform our own art practice?


Reference: Nick Kapica – lecture about his looking at others’ artworks and specific visual texts within the landscape and how this made him more aware of what elements he was drawn to; he then uses those elements and ideas later in his own work.

When we look at an artwork and assess it we’re thinking about aspects such as the intention of the artwork and the meaning – who is the audience and what will they think? How do the formal conventions within the artwork convey this message? By analysing others’ artwork this way we can bring that way of thinking to our own art practice and ultimately refine the purpose, and methods of our work.


  • How is context important to thinking critically?


Reference: Ruszkiewicz, et al. “Reading Texts” 32-34; Mirzoeff, Nicholas “How to See the World” Introduction.

Talk about how “Reading Texts” explains what context does for the artwork, and Mirzoeff exemplifies this and also shows how context influences judgement and reception of an artwork.

Potentiall use the example of the blue marble? Or of Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange – how does this image stand up withotut its context – and how do we think about it if we didn’t0 have the context. Would the judgement of the work be different?


237.130 A1 Week 3 TASK 2- Reading Response

This is a response to “Critical Thinking.” Beginning University: Thinking, Researching and Writing for Success, by Andrew Wallace, Tony Schirato, and Phillippa Bright. St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 1999. 45-61. Print.

Personal Response

I think the points the authors make about critical thinking and about university itself are really key to remember when you’re in the situation. Often, I find myself wondering what the point of this whole paper is, but I guess it’s all about critical thinking, and stimulating different ways of seeing, thinking, and making judgements. It’s easy to just get lost in the task and just read it, then write about it without really taking a second to think about the greater context and importance of what you’re analysing or thinking critically about why you are doing it. But critical thinking and lateral thinking allows us to broaden our options and think of different ways of doing things, and that will always be an extremely necessary tool in art making.

The Authors’ Voice

The authors’ voice in this passage is quite different to most of the other readings in that it has a much more formal, academic tone. It makes use of specific vocabulary that gives the writing credibility and formality, and the sentences are well structured. For example, the sentence, “Knowledge and behaviour tends to be organised in ways appropriate to some dominant paradigm.” (Wallace, Schirato, Bright 48). It sounds academic, and it sounds knowledgable. The authors also make use of the pronouns ‘you’, and ‘we’, and reference the the audience and themselves as apart of the same group. It allows the piece to be relatable while still holding a formal tone, and almost giving advice. I think this piece was well written, it wasn’t difficult but it challenged me to think about what I was reading, and analyse what the authors may mean. I think it gives a lot of insight into the purpose of this paper, and also a reminder to always be thinking broader, and trying to challenge myself.