December 18, 2008

My feelings on critiques have always been mixed. Sometimes I feel like it matters other times I don't. I often have come to a critique hoping for some kind of answers and have realized I already knew the answers to the questions I was asking.

For me the bottom line is to try to come to a critique situation wide open with out any baggage, to try to see the artist and what they are trying to do first and foremost and respond to that. However I find being put into a sitiuation where one has to respond immediatly taxing. I prefer to see the work, hear the artist and go away for awhile and think about it and then respond either through a meeting or text. For me this natural not forced. I also feel that this is closer to an outside the institution art experience.

While I've been at the U the crits I've enjoyed the most have been one an one converstaions with people I have invited to my studio. Where we not only talk about art but other interests. I feel in these situations the conversations can be larger and there is a greater chance to develop a connection with someone.

Having said all of this I thoroughly enjoyed my last critique with the class and think that that critique system is the most effective for large groups.

Thank you everyone for all of your feedback!!!


December 17, 2008

My perspective of critique

Critique is a respond from the viewer. Since the viewer is part of the artwork, so critique become very important for both audience and artist today.

For me I have a very complicated feeling about critique from my personal experience. I went to Beijing Film Academy in China for my undergrad. During that time all the critiques were about if your work looks “professional�(technically) or not. What means “professional� in term of this situation is kind of skill which the people who are not in art field couldn’t learn by themselves without some kind of training. Normally the professor of the class led the critiques, and what he or she focused on were always about technical things. They paid less attention about concept. He or she had power to say right or wrong.

A few years ago I went to NYU for grad school. We had many critiques there as well. I found out that people paid more attention about concept instead of technical professional things. The value of artworks is so different between the two schools. Frankly both kinds of critiques were very useful for me. When I was in BFA, I need to learn basic and fundamental skill for practicing art. But after a while I need to be a really artist, I need to have my independent ideas about art. The NYU critiques fit my requirement at the right time. Suddenly I opened my mind, and felt I got more freedom and less limitation for practicing art.

Today we still have many critiques for being professional artists. Recently, I found out that critiques could go to two directions.

At the university, critique is used as the tool to assign a grade as well as create a dialog between classmates and instructor. People would like to get the positive feed back since they want to get the good grades, therefore they have to choose some faster and popular way to please the group people even they don’t realize they tried to do so. Nothing is wrong about that, after a while the same group people ‘s art works will stay in the same level and no one even can feel the critiques goes that way. In term of this situation, I really appreciate that we had many artist guests in this semester. Since they came from different background and had different ideas and opinions about art. I personally think that the most helpful critiques always come from the people who are not familiar your works and even not come from the same filed.

Critiques also could go to another direction, which is “saying art more than practicing art� When artist making art, sometimes they didn’t think too much. But when people critique the artist works, sometimes they give over explanations.

Personally I think critiques are still very useful anyway. But artists themselves should know what are more important. I mean making the artwork, which you feel satisfy is always the most important thing for artist.

Meng Tang

December 12, 2008

Critique Phil & Guide

My current philosophy on group critiques:
The group critiques I gain the most incite from are when the viewer’s react and discuss the presented work without guidance. By choosing to listen to my audience, I learn how the work operates and what is or is not effective. I find it imperative to take notes including questions that arise. This style of critique allows the artist to take a step outside of the creative role and become a silent viewer.

I suggested this model, if your willing to let your art communicate for you for the majority of the time with the group (I would not suggest this format with an instructor, Visiting Artist, or one-on-one discussions). If you feel time constraints, cut steps one and six.

Step One:
The viewers take 2-3 minutes to write initial impressions of the work on a paper to be given to the artist after the critique. These notes indicate the level of engagement from each person (author can be anonymous).

Step Two:
If the artist is looking for comments regarding a specific aspect of the work, express this focus point for the discussion. Otherwise, continue to step three.

Step Three:
The viewers will discuss the work to evaluate strengths and weaknesses through constructive criticism. Be honest and offer considered opinions you can justify if challenged. If you disagree with someone else’s statement, express why. Offer personal and objective responses that you would value in a critique of your work. The conversation should include references to other ideas, experiences, history, artworks, artists, and so on (whatever makes senses).

During this time, the artist takes notes and evaluates their work from an outside perspective. This style of critique is meant to provide the artist with a variety of information from which they may choose the ones that fit their artistic goals.

Step Four:
The artist expresses his/her vision for the artwork. Describing the content through the current manifestation allows the viewers to understand the artist’s perspective. Respond to the important questions and discussion points.

Step Five:
Open the dialog to the entire group. The artist should asked questions they want answered.

Step Six:
Conclude by taking another 2-3 minutes to write down final responses to the work and resulting critique. Give your sheet to the creator. In this format, everyone can contribute opinions.

Of course, this format does not work in every group consider your audience.

My critique philosophy

During this year and a half in Graduate School the most valuable thing I've found is the experience of being part of a critic environment. In my case, to learn how to listen and how to talk is being an amazing constant process. And I am not talking about the evident language challenges, I am talking about the most literal meaning of learning how to listen other people's points of view and reactions, and how to talk to other people who may or may not understand and be engaged with my own points of view and reactions as well.

I have a few things to say regarding my hypothetical critique philosophy:

1. It is fundamental to be open-minded and to not take comments personally.
2. It is very interesting to first listen for a while and then talk. However, I consider important to always inform the group the "critique dynamic", so everybody goes in the same direction.
3. To ask questions without expecting an immediate answer is a great way to contribute to the artist process after having a critique with other people.
4. To recommend some references is also important but I think it is always important to make clear and explain how that reference fits the artist needs.
5. I think it is always good to try to meet the person a little and not just the artist. It helps to build a more "familiar dialogue", more trust, and of course, it helps to understand and get a better sense of the artist interests.

Thanks for all your great contributions to our critique dialogue!!


Talk it out, Pht

Grad school has been a change from my life as an artist before. Primarily because I was not seeking out much in the way of critical feedback when I was not in school and because it had been a long time.
Consequently, it has been in some ways like starting again. I think there are two ways to talk about crits that we experience here, this is aimed at the idea of the Studio Crit, which in most instances seems more like a conversation, between the artist and the visitor (I mostly think of this in terms of there being only two people present). Then there is perhaps what could be termed the Formal Studio Crit, where the parameters are set by the artist and there are more critiquers. Because a conversation is between two people, I feel that I don’t need to apply any kind of philosophy to that mode but concentrate below on some ideas for the Formal Studio Critique.

The first basic rule: We should all care when looking at one another’s work because we have made a pact, we are all here as students, we have made the choice to study and to study together. As part of that we are duty bound bring whatever we can to a discussion of each other’s work.

Second basic rule: beginner's mind

1. The artist should set the parameters.
2. I think that it is better to listen first.
3. I think it works best if there is some level of trust between artist and critiquers.
4. Try other forms of critique and do away with the idea that this is meant to
toughen us up for the real world.
5. Try to create a situation where the “ideal speech act� can take place.
6. Talk at the end, answer questions.

“Thus their legitimacy is based, not on the universality of the knowledge
produced through discursive action, but on the perceived universality of the
process of human communication itself.� Grant Kester referring to theorist
Jurgen Habermas in Kester’s book, Conversation Pieces.


Heading For Critique Critical Mass

The second year of this program has been rather densely populated with crits for me so far. More so than last year by far, and I'd guess this is probably true for many of us. I suppose that makes sense in the second year of a three year program. It's a lynchpin year in a way and it's important to get as much feedback as possible before settling on thesis material. Still, I find myself dealing with a little burnout and looking forward to a month off. Such is life. Of course the good thing is that it's a perfect time to set for ourselves a personal way to approach critiques. Not that this won't change over time, but for now, here are some of my conclusions on what a studio critique should be.

Philosophy of the Practice of the Studio Critique:

Foremost, I think studio critiques should be with people you trust to be professional and thoughtful. This has nothing to do with whether or not they are inclined to like your work. Obviously, we want affirmation to be part of the process, but I don't think these should always be with people you already know are or would be in your corner. Most crits should be with people that you know would understand your aesthetics and dialectics, but I think it's healthy, if maybe unpleasant, to have a few with people who don't speak the same language as you (figuratively) (and maybe literally).

I believe that the artist's primary role in the crit is to be an editor of input. This is what we do as artists everyday with the world at large and it should be the same when someone is talking to you about your work. It is important to listen carefully but equally important to freely disregard things you don't agree with if you are confident in certain choices you've made. Often, if they are in your studio, they are seeing unfinished work and it is not always possible to clearly communicate your vision for what something will be. Also, people bring all kinds of their own baggage to studio critiques and not all of it has to be carefully considered. Although I try, I know I'm not always saying the most constructive things to others in crits of their work, but I have to trust that they can filter that and have some grace for me. I know we mentioned in class that often a crit turns into people telling you what they would do with your project and some people saw this as a bad thing. Personally, I'm fine with hearing those impulses. If something isn't me, I won't do it, but I don't see anything wrong with liking someone else's idea and adapting it.

Obviously, when something is repeated about your work by multiple people, you need to address it. The first thing is to figure out whether or not it's a bad thing that some aspect keeps coming up. Then you can either diminish that aspect or push it farther. If you hear something in multiple critiques and you're still deciding how to deal with it but you want to discuss other aspects of the work, I think it's perfectly appropriate to pre-emptively ask at the beginning that other things be discussed.

As far as structure goes, I find I lead the conversation too much if I give a spiel to start. I think there's merit in letting someone spend time with your work and sort things out by themselves for a little while before you provide information, but I wouldn't be strict about that either. When I save all my talking till the end, I still sometimes give too many random thoughts that may or may not be apparent in the work and soon the conversation is going in a direction that I don't want and the crit ends on kind of a note of confusion. For this reason, I like the to answer questions as they come up organically and only share my more outlying thoughts or research if there's a natural place in the conversation to do so.

I'm not really sure if this qualifies as a "reference to a view that informs your own", but a piece of advise that I have taken to heart came from Chris Larson last year. This sort of applies more to the studio visit/critique when a curator is interested in your work, but I usually end up doing it for nearly every critique. He suggested that if we know someone is coming to our studio, we should bust our butts to make something new before that visit specifically. That way, along with everything else or maybe just by itself, they have something totally fresh to look at and talk about. Also, this is a way of challenging yourself both in making a new piece and having a chance to talk about it right away. More specifically, he was observing that this is something that midwesterners are less likely to do while it's common practice for many professionals elsewhere. Personally, I thought it was good advise.

Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique

1. I think it is important to do a little self editing in the studio before someone arrives. Sometimes things up on your walls and reference images strewn about can be helpful and sometimes not. Control the conversation a bit right from the start by removing things you don't want drawn into the conversation. I usually prefer not to even have the critique in my studio.

2. Decide how your work should be presented. I like having a combination of actual objects and slideshows of the larger body of work or of related work for context.

3. Set everything up including yummy treats and tea for your visitor and yourself (tip from Andrea Stanislav).

4. Let the visitor take in your work for a little while.

5. Answer questions as they are asked, unless you want to see if they will work something out themselves. In that case, respectfully decline to answer. Let the conversation be give-and-take as far as who controls the direction it goes. The point of this is communication, so listen as well as direct. Be gracious and consider what is being said, but don't be afraid to ask them questions to see if what they are saying has weight to it. Let them test you, but test them a little back.

6. Go out for beers afterwards. Tell stories and laugh with a big open mouth. (optional)

December 9, 2008

studio crit

Studio critique philosophy:
1. Before the viewers says anything, I think it is important to ask the artist what type of critique he or she is seeking, unless they wish to not speak.
2. Because it is a “studio critique,� I don’t know if it is necessary to show completed work.
3. Comments about work should be helpful, not inconsiderate and demeaning,
4. The question concerning the “real art world� should be banished.
5. I think it is important to remember this is graduate school, a place where experimentation, failures, and success coincide.
6. When speaking about work that’s sensitive, I still think it is important to consider its content and form.
7. I think it is important to step of into an abyss of questions. Swimming in such a place could evoke a number of important discoveries.
8. It is important to remember who is the artist.
9. Trust is important. Do I trust this person’s opinion? This is a good question to ask.
10. Its good to not have all the answers.

Jason Gaspar

donovan philosophy

A Philosophy to the Practice of the Studio Critique

So often an artist gets little feedback about their work. Maybe at an opening reception they might get to hear and see how a viewer interacts with a work. Or they might have a friend or colleague take a look. Other than that artists are left without a public perception on how their art is interpreted. The studio critique is a format that allows an artist to get that feedback in a constructive environment. It may be used to help develop an idea or simply a chance to hear and see what people think. The studio critique allows an artist to get a sneak peek on the effect of their art before it is shown to the masses. It allows the artist to make adjustments; it allows their ideas to grow. It is a chance to learn from others, to see the work from someone else’s viewpoint.

Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique

Step one.

Set up the your work in an appropriate fashion. They way you envision it showing at a gallery. Don’t leave odds and ends lying about. This detracts from the work. Before the critique question yourself on the meaning of the work. Ask yourself why it matters and what you are trying to do with it. Basically, be prepared to defend your ideas and how the work relates.

Step two.

Have the participants in the critique view the work. Stay silent. Don’t explain yourself. Have the participants give their feedback. Let them discuss the work as if you are not there. This will allow you to see how the work is interpreted. It gives you the chance to see if your ideas are conveyed through the piece. If no ones talking let the awkward silence build up, don’t fold, someone will speak up.

Step three.

Inform the participants on what you were thinking about when you conceived the idea and in the process of creation. Tell them what you were trying to convey. If your idea came across loud and clear acknowledge the success. Answer any questions that arose during step two.

Step four.

Open up to discussion. Ask questions.

December 8, 2008

A Philosophy and Companion Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique

Synthesis Project:

A Philosophy and Companion Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique

This assignment concludes our semester-long engagement with the process, practice and critique of the studio critique. To synthesize your thoughts on the critique of the studio critique, the meta-level exploration, prepare a blog post that documents both your philosophy of the studio critique and a functional guide to the practice of the studio critique.

As you prepare these 2 facets, consider your statement of philosophy as one that contributes to an ongoing dialogue about the studio critique, it’s relationship to history, context, contemporary practice, current theoretical perspectives, etc. Include at least one reference to a view that informs your own.

When constructing your Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique, prepare one that you would in good conscience provide as a guide for the 2nd year MFA students in future seminars.

Feel free to develop the format that you think will best convey your Philosophy and your Companion Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique.

Post your Philosophy and Guide to Practice in the blog category “the construction of the studio critique� prior to Friday’s class.

Following our final two studio critiques, we will share each Philosophy and Companion Guide to the Practice of the Studio Critique.

October 2, 2008

Against Interpretation ~ Susan Sontag

In the essay that she published in 1963, "Against Interpretation" Susan Sontag, presents a historical flow of the shifting relationship of the experience or art and the interpretation of art, in effect stating that interpretation had become "the intellect's revenge upon art."

September 13, 2008

donovan, david c

.......Just looked at the site and noticed I forgot to comment on some of the things asked.
I structured my critique with initial responses for my peers followed with me describing my process of the creation and ended with discussion. I chose this mode of critique because it allows me to see how others interpret my work. I am able to see if it has the ultimate effect that I am looking for. Then explaining my process I am able to get feedback in ways to improve. The critique went as i thought it would for the most part. Based of the initial responses and discussion I feel as though I am at the right place in my research and developing in the right direction. One thing that surprised me is there wasn’t much of any hard line critiquing. no "negative" feedback. One thing I would like to add is how Juanita showed a time line of development. I think that having the background helps the viewers understand the scope of the artists work.