237130 | A2 | W8 | Critical and Contextual Studies Tool Kit

Planning and Preparation

  • Doing background research into the type of essay
  • Thinking about different approaches to planning, eg. patchwork writer, grand plan writer etc and the pros and cons of these different methods.
  • Analysing the question and the wording of the question

Writing Skills

  • Identifying key ideas in a text
  • Summarising a text
  • Rereading to unpack the purpose of each paragraph, identifying ideas within each paragraph and analysing the writer’s style.

Content and Visual Text Analysis Tools

  • Making connections between new ideas and past knowledge
  • Critical analysis of images
  • Understanding the ‘mystification’ of art thanks to John Berger
  • Understanding how ideologies and our world view influence the way each individual sees a text and therefore each persons analysis of a text will be slightly different to the next.
  • Understanding the myth of photographic truth on it’s own and in relation to ideologies and our world view.

Research and Information Gathering Tools and Protocols

  • Researching artists and relevant ideas
  • Using mind maps to explore ideas and connections or themes between different ideas and images. This worked very well being an (obviously) very visual person.
  • Library research and using key words to find books I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.
  • Skim reading to find the relevant information in an academic book with lots of unrelated information.
  • Understanding different perspectives and how showing the light and shade of an argument can enrich the discussion.

237130 | A2 | W7 | Debate in Action

Identity is a highly contested topic sparking debates of nature vs nurture or whether or not the identity is one ‘thing’ or a collection of parts. (Click on mindmap for a larger version).

Perspectives_on_Identity (2)


Baggini, Julian. Is There a Real You?  TEDxYouthManchester. 2011.

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Jonathan Cape, 1953.

Herbert Mead, George. Mind, Self & Sociology. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Huseman, Beth. Roni Horn aka Roni Horn. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2009. Print.

Onorato, Rina S. & Turner, John C. “Fluidity in the self-concept: the shift from personal to social identity.” European Journal of Social Psychology 34.1 (2004):257-278. Online.

Zevallos, Z. (2011) ‘What is Otherness?,’ The Other Sociologist, 14 Oct,https://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/ 


237130 | A2 | W7 | World View

A person’s world view is largely based on their own personal experience and knowledge. Their world view can be influenced by their upbringing, education, religion and culture. While ideologies are prevalent and promoted through all of these areas, it is the unique combination of these experiences which make up one’s world view. Ideologies can influence both the creation and interpretation of visual texts. Visual texts are a way of normalising the power imbalances and inequalities prevalent in today’s society. The ideologies a person is most familiar with, be they Western, indigenous or other will influence the way they view visual texts including photographs (The Indigenous world view vs. Western world view). In this way, the myth of photographic truth relates to ideologies and world view as it controls or influences the way the viewer perceives a visual text. When constructing a photograph a person’s world view and ideologies will influence the image. When critically evaluating a visual text it is important to consider it’s intended and unintended audience. The text may have been contrived or designed for a particular audience through conforming to certain ideologies.


The Indigenous world view vs. Western world view. WC Native News. 2014.

237130 | A2 | W6 | Reflection on Learning

On the whole this paper has been extremely interesting to me. I have always been interested in the meaning, concepts and context behind visual texts in the form of branding, advertising, art and design. Especially with a background in designing the branding and marketing for businesses I have always had an understanding for the ways that visual identity can ‘speak’ to an audience. However, it isn’t until taking this paper that I have been able to properly express the importance of the visual language. In the context of designing for brands, it is as if I have been subconsciously aware of how different fonts, colours and imagery can send messages to a consumer. However, I haven’t previously been able to verbalise why this is important and how these little details can say so much. It has also taken my understanding of the visual language to a much deeper level.

One of the key concepts I have found most interesting is the idea of ideologies and how these can be portrayed through visual texts. I am very interested in history and learning about ideologies in a historical setting has greatly influenced my appreciation of the importance of context of visual texts.

What has worked for me so far in this paper has been watching extra videos and resources to supplement lectures. I have found so far that these provide more specific examples than the readings allowing me to better understand the key ideas. I have found it interesting to find resources from academic journals as they are often quite in depth. I think perhaps from now on in my essay writing I need to focus on fewer key points. This will allow me to develop my ideas providing personal insight rather than trying to cover a lot of content on a shallow level.

I definitely have a new appreciation for a paper like this especially in combination with psychology as a natural science. I have always played close attention to the detail in my work however now I understand the importance of these details for reasons other than aesthetics.

237130 | A2 | W5 | Task 3 Essay Topic Research


This process helped focus my essay direction as it has redirected the main ideas I want to focus on. Previously I had been thinking I would go in more of a historical narrative direction. However, I feel like this is a bit overdone. This task helped me to think about representation of identity in a greater sense than just how self portraiture changed over time. I am very interested in the ideas surrounding how we see ourselves vs how we represent ourselves (or how we want to be seen) vs how we are seen by others.

This process helped me to understand the importance of developing contextual knowledge and intertextual relationships between visual text. I think what this task showed me was that the best way to do this is by reading a lot about background material surrounding different visual texts and searching for artists whose work explores these ideas.

I think these ideas that I am focusing on now are very relevant to my studio one (art place). My final work has developed from the idea of my mihimihi. Therefore it is in part exploring my identity. However, it has crossed my mind that my work would probably not be so obviously read by someone else as a representation of identity. I think in this way it relates to the idea of how we see ourselves vs how we are seen by other people. It is also of relevance to my art place as I have come across various artists such as Pawel Althamer whose sculpture ‘Self-Portrait as a Business Man’ greatly interested me. In many of my collages for my final piece I have obscured the faces of the subjects present, leaving only the superficial aspects, clothes, hair style, accessories, background etc visible. For me this is about being a ‘no one’ in a new city where no one knows anything about you. Their only impression about who you are as a person will be based off of your superficial appearances. It is this things, the clothes you wear, the bags and tools you carry etc that give them an idea about who you are. This related to Althamer’s sculpture as it showed the superficiality of other people’s idea of your ‘identity’ based on the way they read you as a visual text. It is therefore inevitable that there will be disparities between how you see yourself and how others see you.

Althamer, Powell. Self-Portrait as a Business Man. Jacket, trousers, dress shirt, silk tie, shoes, socks, underpants, passport, plastic cover, leather briefcase, printed papers and other materials. Tate, Liverpool.

Self-Portrait as a Businessman 2002, with additions 2004 by Pawel Althamer born 1967
Self-Portrait as a Businessman 2002, with additions 2004 Pawel Althamer born 1967 Purchased using funds provided by the 2004 Outset / Frieze Art Fair Fund to benefit the Tate Collection 2005 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T11913

237130 | A2 | W4 | 4C Visual Analysis of Selected Images

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.02.50 PMKim Kardashian’s naked mirror selfie posted to photo sharing app, Instagram, was posted five weeks ago. It was made by Kardashian to be shared to her 66.8 million instagram followers. At face value, it’s production depends on a camera phone and a mirror. However, deeper analyis reveals that this exact image would not be possible without hair and makeup, a strict diet and exercise plan and questionable good lighting. There is a suspicious discrepancy in the lighting half way along the bathroom floor which could reveal an additional lighting set up put in place for the selfie. All of this production leads us to believe that this selfie was spur of the moment and instantaneous. It is an illusion. It’s transmission depends on access to the app, instagram through devices such as smart phones and tablets.

The mirror selfie features Kim Kardashian, naked in a luxurious looking bathroom. Solid black rectangles censor the image in order to conform to Instagram’s nudity rules. Kardashian is framed on the right side of the image by a gilded frame which is part of the mirror. The selfie was captioned: ‘When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL’. While not part of a traditional ‘series’ a similar topless selfie also featuring model and actress was posted a month later captioned: ‘When we’re like…we both have nothing to wear LOL @emrata’. In both images the viewers eye is drawn to the figure or figures present. The vantage point of the image is as if you are looking into the mirror.

The different components of the image, the figure, the marble floor, the gilded frame, the bath, the fresh towels and what is potentially a tv screen on the wall are all status symbols. They depict wealth and power. Essentially they are all contributing factors to the image and identity that Kardashian and most likely her PR team want to display.

Many selfies taken in private and then shared have a voyeuristic quality as they are a glimpse into a private moment. This selfie particularly so due to the nudity of the figure as well as the location of a bathroom, a private environment. This is a way of growing interest in Kardashian and attracting attention. In viewing this private moment, the audience feels somewhat more familiar with Kardashian. It makes her seem more ‘real’. This can make an audience engage more actively with the image through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on her instagram. This is a tactical way of growing her following. In doing so she increases her financial worth, an underlying motive and purpose of creation of the selfie.