The idea of how visual texts are important to artists and designers can be explored through the key points and ideas of Compare and Contrast, Contextualizing and Perspectives. These are crucial and vital elements to which artists and designers of today rely on to think critically about visual texts to put into practice.
One of the key ideas that I have learned from my previous assignments is just how important comparing and contrast is when analyzing visual works. Our field trips forced us to analyze the areas, unconsciously we were already comparing one location to another. To define the term in relation to critical thinking, it is to draw the differences and similarities between two things and analyzing it in depth.
A prime example of this was during the visit to the Michael Fowler Centre in central Wellington and the visit to San Fran Bar on Cuba Street. Both were vastly different and at first glance, one would not be able to connect the two locations to find an instant similarity; instead finding dozens of differences that kept the two locations in stark contrast to one another. However, upon writing the ‘Compare and Contrast’ task in week two, I came to the sudden realization that these two locations were actually similar. They both hosted a large audience and put on shows – albeit they were different types of shows but had the same objective none the less. This process of closely looking and critically thinking about the visual texts are incredibly relevant, important and vital to all art and design practices. Especially by comparing and contrasting, this allows for differences and similarities to the surface which enable us to analyze in more depth and with more logical reasoning.
Contextualizing is another key idea that stood out to me throughout the past three weeks of study. To contextualize, one must put things in place in order to give it background to further the understanding of it. This could relate it to the time or place where it began or was found. Michael Clarke further defines this as “Identifying the context of the object of attention is to locate it in a particular time and place” (Clarke. 24) This key concept of contextualizing is a primary requirement of critical thinking which helps to strengthen and connect artists and designers in their practices.
Change of Perspective was a key idea that I realized was an essential and relevant part of critical thinking. Perspective is the point of view or an attitude towards an idea, this is susceptible to change upon learning new information. Seeing something from another perspective and learning new information helped to change mine so I could better my understanding. Nicholas Mirzoeff discusses this in his work when he states, “We assemble a world from pieces, assuming that what we see is both coherent and equivalent to reality. Until we discover it is not” (Mirzoeff. 10). We as people, build up an image, an idea, a concept based on the knowledge we already have from the things we see, hear, touch, smell and discover with the various senses. However when we see a change of perspective, whether it is by listening to others with opposing viewpoints or learning new information, we learn what we previously thought was correct was not and, therefore, a new or changed perspective is born. This is especially critical and important for artists and designers who require different viewpoints to express their chosen practice in.
The above clearly illustrates how the key elements of Contrast and Comparing, Contextualizing, and Perspective all collectively contribute to looking and thinking critically. They help to enforce and better artists and designers practice to become more successful and better thought out.