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 relating to art and design practices. The way each individual reads a visual text is a reflection of their own subjective reality, limiting their understanding and perspective of the text. Their background of experiences, knowledge and beliefs are influencing the way they see and understand the text. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. What we see is what we have been conditioned to see. Just as humans can recognise faces in inanimate objects, we are conditioned to see things that are familiar or that involve an evolutionary instinct. 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.
Analysis of a visual text reveals its meaning and purpose. 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. A thorough analysis of nuances in the visual texts contributed to an understanding of the sites function and identity. Signage at Arty Bees focused on branding and identity through the use of colour, type and repetition. In comparison, signage at the City Library focused on functionality through materials and placement. Another example of reading a place as a visual text is reading the architecture of buildings and what this tells us about the significance and purpose of the building. The visual language of the neo-classical architecture of Parliament building in Wellington implements 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 the development of thoughts and ideas. This is a way of lateral thinking, being open to ‘new perspectives and possibilities’ (beginning university critical thinking). As individuals we are conditioned by our upbringings and surroundings creating the perspective in which we view the world. Societies are also conditioned to accept common beliefs or paradigms passed down from generation to generation without question. An example of this is the persistence of cultural reference demonstrated by the use of papyrus as a symbol of structure and strength in ancient Egypt. (ref lecturer). The use of building houses from this plant developed into building stone columns designed to replicate its form. 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 instinctively believe to be true.