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Thread: What is Critique?

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    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
    東京 Tokyo

    Default What is Critique?

    here's a 'work in progess' article on critique. will update now and then when i have
    new information. feel free to pm me to add/change things or discuss the content.

    What is a Critique?

    __________________________________________________ ____________________

    cri·tique/krɪˈtik/[kriteek] verb, -tiqued, -ti·quing.


    1. an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailed evaluation; review.
    2. a criticism or critical comment on some problem, subject, etc.
    3.the art or practice of criticism.
    4. to review or analyse critically.

    __________________________________________________ ____________________

    From here, we know that a critique is one that goes beyond single word comments
    like 'good,' 'bad,' 'nice,' 'ugly,' 'sucks' etc.

    Why is Critique important?

    A Critique puts a piece of work to test. It's the most direct way to solicit responses
    to the work, reflecting the effectiveness of the work (and competency of the artist.)
    Critiques can involve theoretical debates, which may or may not lead to new point of
    views, and/or widen the horizon of participants' thinking.

    How to Critique?

    In order for a Critique to take place, participants in a Critique need to know how a
    piece of work is appreciated. The following are the fundamental information about a
    piece of work that are used in the appreciation of the work

    1. Time of production

    A piece of work can be appreciated for it's symbolism or effect when juxtaposed against
    works of similar nature produced around the same time and/or similar or related works
    from earlier time. A Critique can only take place when the critic is given a point of
    reference to measure the work against. A piece of artwork is considered to be critiqued
    at the macro level when that point of reference refers to the effects the art has on
    prevailing theory, practices and/or social phenomena. Such critique often applies to
    reactionary art.

    2. Artist's Intention (Content)

    At the micro level, a piece of work has to be judged against the desired outcome intended
    by the artist. In textual form, intention is understood via work's title, caption/writing that
    accompanies the work, and /or artist's verbal explanation. All art has intention, not matter
    how vague it may be. A piece of work can be created without intention (e.g. naturally
    formed objects) but cannot be presented without an intention. To show a piece of work
    for the sake of showing it is itself an intention (to show off.) To show a piece of work to
    stimulate freedom in imagination is also an intention. The act of the artist displaying the
    piece of work itself must have an intention. Intentions are not always apparent, some
    subconscious intentions are also interpreted only through intensive self/public critique.
    However, critique can be overdone when the critic starts to make random interpretation
    to fulfill private agendas.

    3. The Title

    The title of a piece of work represents the work in words. It is a direct, summarized
    translation of the work into a immediately understandable term to those who use the
    language. A title can be use to

    a. name the object of the work
    b. guide the viewer into a desired thought (feeling, memory etc.)
    c. describe a situation depicted in the work (action, behaviour, event etc.)
    d. inform the condition of the work (time, place etc.)

    When a piece of work cannot be adequately represented in words, artists often use
    'untitled' as a textual representation of the work in writing.

    4. Captions/Attached Writing

    Captions and additional writings accompany a work often because the work itself
    contains local information essential to the understanding of the work.

    Global information are information known to most people without the need to elaborate
    in words. For example colours (except to people with colour blindness,) nature (tree,
    flower, animal) etc. Works containing predominantly global information (e.g. a sunset
    scene, waves of the sea, a smiling face) usually do not require additional writings to tell
    the viewer the full information in the works.

    Local information are cultural information known only to a specific group of people. For
    example meaning in colours, meaning in actions, cultural objects etc. Works containing
    predominantly local information (e.g. an essential object found in a minority's wedding,
    a religious symbol used only in a specific town) often need captions and writings to aid
    the artist in describing the work to people who are ignorant of the meaning behind these

    5. Composition

    Composition is the structure of a piece of work. It is the way the work is presented in
    its physical form. A good composition is one that organizes the elements used in the work
    such that the intention of the work is put across effectively. A bad composition is one
    that confuses the viewer from the artist's intention. Difference in perspective of view (point
    of view) effectively alters composition and thus can be considered as part of composition
    itself. Some basic compositional strategies are

    a. lines

    use of elements as visual/sensual leads toward the intention/focus of the work

    b. relationship between main element and secondary elements

    placement of elements in a visually comfortable formation, proportioning (visual or physical)
    of elements with respect to intention/focus of work, juxtaposition of shapes/colours etc.

    c. visual comfort and/or tensions

    creating intensities through congestions, providing breathing spaces through compositional
    breaks etc.

    6. Elements of Photography

    There are 4 major visible components a photograph can be broken down into.

    A. Shape

    Shape refers to the abstract form formed by the subject(s) in the frame. Shapes are
    important as visual guides, as when we try to visualise the world on a piece of sketch,
    we always breakdown relationships into shapes. It helps us understand the boundaries of
    the subject(s) in the frame.

    B. Texture

    Texture refers to the sense of touch triggered by vision, as one looks at the photograph.
    Adjectives such as 'fluffy,' 'rough,' 'splintered,' 'thorny' etc. comes to mind. Texture is
    capable of suggesting degree of intimacy the viewer is allowed to have with the subjects

    C. Lighting

    Photography needs light (or the lack of) in order to be realised. Light renders objects
    visible to our eyes. Photography is created when light causes a chemical reaction on the
    film or when it is digitally mapped on a digital sensor. Photography is presented when light
    is reflected off a print, or filtered through the slide, or emitted on the computer screen.

    D. Colour

    Colour information in a piece of photograph adds dimension to the picture, the lack of
    colour (monochrome) results in a photograph that concentrates on shape, texture and
    lighting. Colours also carry cultural information, and thus affect the way a piece of
    photograph can be appreciated according to the cultural background and upbringing of
    the maker and/or viewer.

    7. Medium

    A piece of work can be appreciated for use of appropriate medium that either enhances
    the visual enjoyment of the work or enhances the expression of the artist's intention.
    Quality of prints, colours, tones, materials used, place in which artwork is presented etc.
    can be judged with or without meaningful implications.

    8. Method/Technique

    A piece of work can be appreciated for the artist's skill in execution. Detailing, processing
    (darkroom/digital etc.,) format (frame size, proportion etc.,) performance etc.
    Last edited by eikin; 20th March 2008 at 04:03 AM.


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