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Assessment and Critique of New Media Art Graphics

An Interactive Website to discuss and exchange info on the subject:
  http://carbon.ursyn.com/art-critique-and-assessment/

Concepts about visual thinking related to the aesthetic experience caused by art

We may realize that art means something different for everyone.

Approaches to the definition of art

Art may be seen as:
-- producing beauty
-- imitating reality and beauty of nature
-- creating new forms and ideas
-- expressing artist’s feelings
-- creating illusions
-- providing shocking experiences.

Opinions about Art

History of art is a history of different definitions of art. For example, some people thought that:
-- culture is bad for art (Dubuffet, see “Jazz Band -- Dirty Style Blues, 1944,
-- creating art does not require any skills because ‘everything is art’
-- it’s impossible to separate art from the rest of world, hence the earthwork art, Andy Goldsworthy, also Christo (we have already discussed his work: Christo, 1985, The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris,
-- the intention of many modern paintings is not to render the naturalistic image of natural world, but to bridge the distance between object and spectator, so the value of such art is in its impact.

Opinions about Beauty

History of art is a history of different definitions of beauty. In different times, people thought that:
-- beauty means perfection
-- beauty is something that provides aesthetic emotions
-- beauty causes visual sensations by shapes and colors. From the 5th to 17th century proportion with strict rules)was considered most important.
-- then, a sense of the beauty of an artwork was shifted from objective to subjective
-- beauty of art is separated from beauty of nature, and even
-- the concept of beauty does not exist in art, cannot be defined

A story about worth

However, beauty of the masterpieces has been appraised not only according to their aesthetic values but also because of an artist’s fame. Van Megeren -- an extraordinary forger of the masterpieces had been selling his works for millions until they were recognized as forgeries. Then the buyers felt they lost millions.

A story about preferences

Two contemporary artists, Komar and Melamid made a research about viewers’ choices related to art: what is beautiful, what is ugly, what would they like to have in their homes. Their work is described in the “Painting by Numbers” book by Joan Wypijewski.

Opinions about creation

Greeks and Romans did not talk about creation -- they just made things according to rules. Plato thought artists imitate but not create (Plato, Respublica, 597D). During Middle Ages creation was restricted to God and artists studied natural beauty to imitate it, so many languages have different word for creation by God and creation by an artist.  Renaissance brought about freedom of creating un-natural forms (Leonardo da Vinci). Now rules, formulas, and skills but also imagination, novelty, creativity are valued, as “on an old tree, in an old way, new leaves are growing,” and “every car is new while all its parts do not differ from old cars.”

Aesthetic perception

The aesthetic perception of the work may be based on examination of meanings:
– Sensory properties, such as shapes, lines, values, textures, colors, space, etc.
– Formal qualities: how the work is organized, are all elements necessary, is there unity in
       variety, hierarchy of elements, repetition, sense of balance, rhythm, and thematic variation.
– Technical merits: how the object was created, for example, by an impasto application of paint.
 Expressive merits: thematical (faces, trees, etc.), metaphorical (symbols of a somber, frivolous, etc. mood), dynamical (tension, conflict, relaxation, etc.) and ideal language (interpretation of events, beliefs and expressions).

Opinions about aesthetics

Aesthetic experience may mean
-- emotions sensed like while appreciating games and competitors (from ancient times till now)
-- sensual pleasure caused by beauty, no associations needed
-- cognitive, intellectual indulgence
-- irrational elation
-- experiencing illusions: a viewer grasps in the mind it is an illusion but enjoys it, contemplates, feels empathy, plays a kind of a game by watching a fictional world with fictional rules, switching his troubles off, and feeling emotions.

Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a phenomenon in which the real information received by one sense is experienced in another: people with synesthesia can “hear” color, “taste” shapes, and so on. For example, hearing the musical tone C and seeing the colour red. Usually, the deeper is a musical note, the darker is the color. Similar reactions may accompany sensations of taste, touch, pain, smell, or temperature. Color-hearing" is relatively frequent. Some musicians report that they see particular colours whenever they hear given tones and musical passages; poets sometimes claim to hear sounds or musical tones when they see words, images, and colors. We may try to produce occasions for synesthetic events, and happenings by combining several art media at the same time.

Opinions about electronic art

Some qualities that make electronic art different from traditional art are: it is time-based (often recorded as a video or on a CD), multidimensional, involves multimedia, interactivity, and provides synesthetic experience. Computer art critics discuss new trends in electronic art and look for electronically generated art which evoke strong aesthetic emotion, are truly contemporary (could not have been produced in previous epoch), and might be identified as an innovative or original masterpiece.

Strategies for visual problem solving – writing a professional critique of an artwork

Writing a critique means describing, evaluating, comparing, contrasting, rather then saying personal things about it. Critical analysis is considered a higher level thinking strategy, which involves description, analysis, interpretation and judgment.  When we are talking or writing on art, we put several types of questions to evaluate what we see and what we experience. 

The descriptive questions ask what we see
the analytical questions ask what are the interrelationships of the parts of the artwork; 
the interpretative questions ask what is the meaning to you; and
the evaluative questions ask whether it is good or bad art, and if you do like or dislike it.

Write a critique of the artwork done by one of your favorite artists. Choose the work you like the most. Make a description of the artwork under critique; the artist's name, the title of the artwork, its size, medium, year of production. First, collect the facts only (not your opinions) relating to depiction, composition, placement of objects, technique used, etc.
Analyze and describe the facts you have collected by looking for proportion of forms, perspective used in the work, use of light and shade effects, texture, resemblance to the subject depicted or its deformation, relations between forms and the background.

Try to make up a statement that would unify the single traits of the work. Make a critical interpretation of observations you have made. Do the separate traits of the work sum up to fit together and make sense? Why did you choose this piece of work and why did you prefer this one to the others.
Make a judgment on the work in terms of formal beauty of the drawing, expressive values in communication with the viewer, and the instrumental effectiveness for a purpose. Justify your opinion on the artwork under critique. Why do you like the artwork?

Web pages that contain collections of art

World History Sources: http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/whmfinding.php
Christopher L. C.  E. Witcombe Art History Resources: http://arthistoryresources.net/ARTHLinks.html
20th century art resources: http://arthistoryresources.net/ARTH20thcentury.html#general20century
Worldwide Guide to Museums Online: http://www.museumstuff.com/
Guggenheim Musea: New York, Venice, Bilbao, Abu Dhabi: http://www.guggenheim.org;
Whitney Museum of American Art: http://www.whitney.org/exhibition/index.shtml
Artport, the Whitney Museum’s portal to Internet Art:  http://artport.whitney.org http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/Artport
The Louvre Museum, Paris, France: http://www.louvre.fr/en
Web Museum, Paris: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/ http://webmuseum.meulie.net/wm/
The Public Library and Digital Archive: http://www.ibiblio.org/louvre
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France: http://www.centrepompidou.fr/en
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html
Art history resources on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Art.History.Resources
Rhizome: Journal, Artbase, Community, Programs:  http://rhizome.org/?ref=header

 

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