Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 10 July 2006

Critique Process

To be broken down in later sections…

A critique usually begins with the artist giving an oral presentation of his intentions and the artwork, including the ideas/processes/chosen imagery found in the work so far, a self report of success or failure at correlating his intentions to his representations and possible changes to be made/intended future directions.  The evaluating group (major professor and/or fellow students) then offers commentary based on the artist’s volunteered information.  The ensuing discussion involves (non-exhaustively) topics such as:

  1. The correlations between the artist’s verbal account and the artwork,
  2. Reasons why the verbalization and imagery do or do not significantly correlate,
  3. Additional clarification from the artist regarding underlying concepts and chosen representation,
  4. Group attempts to define/refine the artist’s underlying concepts and chosen representation,
  5. Suggestions for improving the correlation between the verbal account and imagery,
  6. Suggestions for particular or general modifications to future art production, and
  7. A summation by the artist, including a plan of action.

The summation may actually be performed by the artist alone after the critique and can include a dismissal of the entire review process. Depending on the individual it can be as informal as a ‘mental note’ or formally memorialized in a journal or sketchbook.  At this point in an artist’s development, if not already a practice, a journal or sketchbook is introduced as part of the educational requirement.  With this tool, the artist is further able to track intentions and feedback while formulating methods and goals. 

This undergraduate model allows for a comparison of verifiable external monitoring with the more intangible or difficult to verify internal monitoring.  Treatment of both processes as analogous may make help to make these processes clearer, give some direction toward investigating the particularized cognitive processes used in the introspective analysis that is a major part of creating art and eventually shed some light on how they initially developed.  The intended implication (which is just raised as a possibility and will not be drawn out here) is that internal monitoring and control (or metacognition) occurs during all art practice inside or outside of this model, even if only in an intuitive and automatic manner whilst in the midst of creating.  The internal monitoring and control by the artist mirrors the external monitoring and control of the undergraduate critique.  The artist gathers his thoughts in preparation to orally present his intentions and the artwork.  What this entails is preparing for the topics that have the potential to come up in a critique – an ‘internalized’ version of these topics.  The artist:

  1. Thinks about correlations between what he intends and the artwork,
  2. Formulates explanations for why his intentions and imagery do or do not significantly correlate,
  3. Attempts to define/clarify/refine underlying concepts and chosen representation,
  4. Formulates methods for improving the correlation between intention and imagery,
  5. Plans particular or general modifications to future art production, and
  6. Sets revised goals or a plan of action.

The preparation process probably occurs in more than one sitting or throughout art production and possibly also involves the use of the journal/sketchbook.  Though usually a personal tool, the journal/sketchbook is sometimes subjected to external monitoring through review by professors.  Arguably, these actions on the part of the artist though described as ‘preparation’ for a critique or discussion would occur without external motivation.  This type of internal dialogue seems necessary to the development of an individual or series of art objects and an important aspect of the creative process.  The creative process is a troubling enigma, notoriously difficult to pin down and understand, even for those who are recognized as creative individuals.  Creativity, whether specifically artistic or a more general ingenuity, seems to be an innate ability outside of description or effective analysis.  For an artist to ‘gather his thoughts’ about intentions, as mentioned earlier, the convoluted area of the creative act has to be probed.  Autobiographical memory of this experience is heavily relied upon for visual art practice, affecting the development of artistic expression.  An important aspect of the undergraduate model is that, as stated earlier, at this point in an artist’s development, if not already a practice, a journal or sketchbook is introduced as part of the educational requirement and this tool aids the artist in tracking intentions and feedback while formulating methods and goals.  Most practicing artists engage in journaling to keep track of thoughts, to refresh their memories on past work as an extension of internal monitoring and subjective mental processes. 

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