Explain why the processes of looking closely and thinking critically about visual texts are important to art and design practices
Contextualisation is a fundamental process in thinking critically and looking closely at visual texts as our own subjective realities limit our understanding and perspective of a text. The way each individual reads a visual text is a reflection of their own subjective reality. This means that their background of experiences, knowledge and beliefs are influencing the way they see and understand the text. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. There is a reason why a devout muslim will not experience a sighting of Christ. What we see is based off of what we believe and have been conditioned to believe. Our own individual realities limit us in how we perceive visual texts. It is therefore imperative to use contextualisation to help us to see different perspectives. Contextualisation involves investigating the background of a text, allowing us to understand why it was made, who it was made for and under what circumstances.
In order to think critically and look closely at a visual text we have to analyse the visual text. To analyse a visual text is to inspect something closely to determine what it means or implies. (Beginning university; critical thinking). This involves understanding the purpose and motives of the text. When comparing the sites of Arty Bees Book store and Wellington City Library, analysis of visual texts such as signage, displays and use of space allowed the viewer to better understand the sites as a whole. While the purpose of each site was clear, a more detailed analysis of nuances in the space revealed how the use of visual texts contributed to the way the sites functioned. Signage at Arty Bees had a greater focus on branding and identity whereas signage at the City Library had a greater focus on functionality. Another example of reading a place as a visual text is reading the architecture of parliament building in Wellington and ‘the classical visual language employs power structures’ Patricia Thomas lecture.
Another process of looking closely and thinking critically important to art and design practices is creative thinking. creative thinking is essential to changing the ways we think about and respond to things. This is a way of lateral thinking, being open to ‘new perspectives and possibilities’ (beginning university critical thinking). we are conditioned in many ways as an individual, shaped by our upbringings and experiences to see things in certain ways. this also occurs on a larger scale as a society through things such as paradigms – accepted beliefs which aren’t questioned. certain cultures and societies form beliefs and ideas that go unquestioned or passed on from generation to generation. For example the lotus as a symbol of structure and power in ancient egypt shows the persistence of cultural reference. (ref lecturer). this shows how we can consciously or subconsciously pick up beliefs and ideas that become engrained in us. it is for this reason that we have to be able to think laterally and question the ideas we have always believed to be true.