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A Quick Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique

8410 class is a "studio based critique to foster critical dialogue about art practice across media/disciplines. Colloquium for ideas/theories that migrate between artistic practices and influence studio work."

What is studio critique? Studio critique is peer review by fellow artists, a constant dialogue between artistic and curious minds, inquiry about cultural, history, and memory behind particular works, and, not infrequently, "attack" and "defense" of a particular idea, concept, approach, or technique. Artists reply on studio critique to understand how their work resonates with others. Studio critique shall be done in a constructive manner, but not necessary in an ultra-friendly collegial atmosphere. Exchange of ideas and serious debates on aesthetics and creative value are encouraged. Excessive personal monologue without interaction with fellow artists, or neglect in scrutinizing artworks shall not be indulged.

How studio critique is done? Is there any protocol should be followed? Are there any rules? The simple answer is studio critique can be done in any creative way; there is no rule or protocol. But keep in mind the definition of studio critique, and keep in mind you are engaging in a creative activity as an artist.

Nonetheless, there are a few common approaches have been demonstrated valuable in making studio critique effective:

- Describing the artworks in detail and an objective way: tell us what is observable and tangible, tell us what you see and what we shall be able to verify. This process avoids any fundamental misunderstanding and ambiguity. This process is a good training in particularity by giving the critic (you) an opportunity to see from a professional perspective.

- Anatomizing and analyzing the artwork like a surgeon: you are encouraged to focus on the form, the textual quality, the composition, technicalities of the work. You shall be able to reverse-engineer the artwork and break it done into pieces- elements, then re-compose them back to one entity, and tell us what you might do differently in composing these elements, compare you choice with the artist's choice.

- Interpreting the artwork using a critical theory you see fit: including but not limited to post-modernism, feminism, deconstructionism, or psychoanalysis. Investigation into artist's background, pre-history of the artwork is valuable but not absolutely indispensable. Over-interpretation sometimes is a necessary evil.

- Evaluating the artwork based on aesthetic significance. Craftsmanship shall be considered but shall not be the sole factor. Stating your opinion firmly, make a clear judgment, tell us what you like or dislike about the artwork. Again, be professional and constructive.

Meng Tang