Thinking critically about visual texts is a vital requirement for becoming a successful artist or designer. Critical thinking is the task of thinking and reflecting on an issue to form a response. It is a form of thinking that is based on a context, which allows underlying meanings to be discovered, therefore enhancing one’s knowledge on the specific subject. Critical thinking is important at university, is used for critical reception, and has been utilised to describe a visual text from the DreamWorks’ Exhibition.
Critical thinking is an important process to learn at University, particularly for art and design practices. According to Wallace, becoming a successful learner is about ‘’not taking things for granted, not repeating what everyone has always said’’ (Wallace, Schirato, Bright 46). To become a successful artist or designer it is best to avoid the safe, easy options. Always push the boundaries and think critically outside the box. If one thinks critically, they evaluate all possible outcomes to determine the best, and most suitable answer to the problem at hand. A designer and artists job is to produce work that is new, developed, and progressive in modern society. Therefore, if an artist is never taught to think critically early on during their studies, their practice will remain ordinary and at a constant plateau. (Wallace, Schirato, Bright 46).
Critical reception is used in conjunction with critical thinking. Critical reception is the reaction or meaning a viewer receives when analysing a piece of work. This is a process that all artists and designers undergo when viewing others work, and one which can be beneficial for their own practice. Critical reception expands our thoughts and ideas in terms of art and design. This process will often involve looking at a work two or three times, as our ideas and perceptions are constantly changing as we are introduced and exposed to new experiences. (Annals, Cunnane, Cunnane 19).
When describing or analysing a visual text for art or design practices, critical thinking is required in order to think beneath the surface. To analyse a visual text means to research a particular text in order to discover its meaning and purpose. (Clarke 25). An example of a visual text is the Face Poser, which was part of the DreamWorks’ Animation, The Exhibition, held at Te Papa. The Face Poser is an interactive touch screen device which allows the audience at the DreamWorks’ exhibition to gain a clear understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes. Face Poser is designed and programmed so the participant can create their own DreamWorks’ character with a range of facial expressions and shapes to choose from. This visual text was hugely popular at the exhibition, with children eagerly lining up to have their turn at creating a unique character. (Clarke 25).
Fig. 1. Face Poser, DreamWorks’ Animation, The Exhibition. Personal photograph by Kate Arbuckle. 13 Mar 2016.
In conclusion, critical thinking is a vital process when thinking about visual texts as artists and designers. Critical thinking affects not only how we think, but also how we see, hear, and imagine, as we begin to think beyond the surface with more depth and understanding. When thinking critically we are able to discover new concepts and ideas which can benefit our practice and enhance our success.
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