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Project 3 :: Guidelines for Written Critique

Guidelines for Written Critique
Written response to be posted on Blog by Wednesday, 28 November

1. Describe and interpret the work. How does it contextualize (form and content) the theme of our assignment – “Invent a Perfect World? in stop-motion animation?

2. Evaluate the use of narrative (or non-narrative) structure – What is the works structure? How does it reflect ideas about time and space? How does it help to convey the goals of the work? Is it well edited and shot, why or why not?

3. Evaluate the sound – how is it used and incorporated into the work? Is it seamless or fractured? How does the sound help to convey the ideas behind the work?

4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the work. What stands out and why?


To help you get started:
Your critique should address form and content, and should consider the work of art in and of itself, and in the context of the assignment.

Terry Barrett, in his book Criticizing Photographs, defines criticism as "...informed discourse about art to increase understanding and appreciation..." As such, criticism involves much more than the relatively simple act of judging--of determining whether one "likes" or "dislikes" a piece. Rather, it is a means toward the end of understanding a work of art. Critical consideration usually consists of at least three main activities:

1. Describing the work (what does it look like? what is it made of?): Assume the audience has not and will not view the piece and that you are the sole mediator for their understanding of it's formal qualities.
2. Interpreting the work (what does it mean?): Here you are asked to synthesize any contextual or biographical information you have with your own subjective interpretation of the work's significance.
3. Evaluating the work (is it art? is it interesting? does it "work"?): This is, perhaps, the most difficult critical task, yet it is usually the one to which most people skip when criticizing a work of art. To thoughtfully evaluate a work of art, you must determine what your criteria are for judging its relative worth or effectiveness. Only you can provide this information. Do not assume the reader (or your fellow student) shares your point of view. Explain why you feel the way you do. "Thumbs up" or "thumbs down" will not cut it. This is college.

Most people new to the critique forum fail to understand that criticism of a work does not mean the work is "bad", or that the artist has failed in some way. In order to refine our ability to produce effective artworks, we must listen to what the participants in the critique have to say about it. This is not to discourage robust debate, by any means. Some of the most lucid insights arise out of heated arguments about a work of art. Rather, it is imperative that each point of view be expressed so as to maximize the benefit of this most unusual form of public discourse. The whole point of the exercise is to go make better work.