Today was my first Constellation study group session with Theo in ‘Critical Practices In Art & Design’. In short terms, this group is very different to my previous group (After Modernism) in a way that it could easily be applied to any Art & Design subject, rather than focusing in on one type. I think that the study group will aid me to assess art and design in a completely different way to how I previously have. As an initial thought, I’m already more interested in this study group than I was with After Modernism, because I feel that it’s much more relevant to Graphic Communication.
Week 1: CONSIDERING CRITICALITY: KEY IDEAS
Theo presented a broad introduction to the option and began to build some key definitions concerning critical practices, taxonomies, and histories of ideas. We explored the option assignment and ethos, and he advises us how we can get the most out of the group.
Firstly, Theo gave us an insight into what he’s achieved as an ‘artist and designer’, which was really interesting and inspirational. He also showed us a list of just some of the different role names his practices have come under, such as; artist, designer, Design consultant, product designer, interaction, UX designer, UI designer, graphic designer, information architect, author, critic, illustrator, artist, poet, photographer, cross-stitcher, film director, company director, editor, salesperson, teacher, manager, trustee, and many, many other roles. This reinforces that Theo’s work is not Art or Design, but a combination of the two.
We began by looking at what it means to be ‘critical’ and what it means to be ‘affirmative’. I learnt that to be critical is to design for debate, for designs/art to be though-provoking and engaging, whereas to be affirmative is to design for production, to have a standard view on things.
The following quote by Dunne & Raby explains what it means to be critical to these people:
Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life.
It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.
Its opposite is affirmative design: design that reinforces the status quo. – Dunne & Raby
Another example of criticality is the mini task that Theo set. We were asked to pair up to find an example of something that we can be critical about. Daisy and I found this image:
In order to think critically about this product, you must think about how practical it would be if you were to try to use it like a normal tea set. You can’t help but try to visualise what would happen when you poured the tea into the cup, and what would happen if you tried to drink from the cup. By comparing the object to an everyday, ‘normal’ version of the object, you are thinking about it critically. By removing the practicality of the object (by stretching it), it the removes the affirmative aspects of it. The tea set has been designed in order to make its audience think about it and visualise how it would work, it wants to be engaged with, and it would be much more engaged with than a normal tea set.
i). Identify a ‘philosopher’ (alive or dead) and begin to familiarise yourself with their ideas.
ii). Identify an artist/designer (doesn’t have to be from your subject, and can be alive or dead).
iii). Identify a single image of that artist/designer’s work.
iv). Consider how the ideas of your pet philosopher might be used to analyse/understand/critique your pet artist/designer with reference to your image
v). Present your consideration to the group (details to follow)
Your presentation should only be one JPG and take no longer than two-minutes of talking.
What I learnt in this session:
- The significant different between Critical and Affirmative.
- The differences, similarities and overlap of Art and Design.
- Dunne & Raby are famous ‘Critical Thinkers’.
- Critical Design isn’t ‘just art’, because it has meaning and aims to be engaged with.
Humphries, T. (2019). Week 1 ‘Key Ideas’ Lecture.
Kamprani, K. (2019). The Uncomfortable is a collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects by Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani. | a r t | absurd | Pinterest | Design, Everyday objects and Art. [online] Pinterest. Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/22940279336442409/ [Accessed 28 Jan. 2019].