Explain why the processes of looking closely and thinking critically about visual texts are important to art and design practices
The practice of art and design is about making conscious decisions towards the creation of visual texts. Unlike written text, the language of visual texts is enigmatic. The way a visual text is read depends largely on the world view of the individual. Contextualisation is an important process necessary to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the text.
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. An individual’s world view consists of their existing knowledge and experiences and influences how they read a text (Mirzoeff 11). What we see is what we have been conditioned to see. A person’s world view can limit their understanding and perception of a visual text. This means that visual texts can be manipulated to suit different audiences. However, the process of contextualisation allows us to move past our individual interpretations and see different perspectives. Contextualisation is important to art and design practice as it helps us to understand why the text was made, who it was made for and under what circumstances (Clarke 25). Contextualisation is important as it ‘breathes new life’ into a work (reading texts).
The meaning and purpose of a visual text can be determined from an analysis of the text. When analysing the visual texts at a bookshop and the Wellington City library, signage at the bookshop had a branding focus whereas signage at the library was focused on functionality. The differences between the two were observable through colour, type, repetition and placement. The analysis of visual texts is important in an art and design practice as it shows how subtleties significantly alter the audience’s interpretation. It is important to analyse other aspects of visual texts which can impact it’s interpretation such as the location and environment (Working with visual images). The way we view a piece of art in a public space such as Te Aro park will differ from viewing a visual text in the formal setting of a gallery. These locations convey different connotations and associations which can be revealed through further analysis of the text.
Another process of looking closely and thinking critically important to art and design practices is creative thinking. Creative thinking is essential to the generation of new thoughts and ideas. This is a form of lateral thinking, being open to ‘new perspectives and possibilities’ (beginning university critical thinking46). Societies are conditioned to accept common beliefs or paradigms passed down from generation to generation without question. (beg uni critical thinking). An example of this in art design practice is the persistence of cultural reference demonstrated by the use of the papyrus plant as a symbol in ancient Egyptian architecture. (ref lecturer). Accepted practices and beliefs can become subconsciously or consciously engrained in us. Thinking creatively about new ideas and practices is necessary in the progression of art and design. We have to be able to think laterally and question commonly accepted ideas. Critical thinking is about determining ‘what is true’ (Critical thinking beginning uni)
To think about a visual text critically is to consider it actively and engage with it. (Annals, Cannane, and Cannane 15). Processes of contextualisation, analysis and creative thinking are essential ways of looking closely and thinking critically about visual texts in art and design practice.