Close examination and critical evaluation of visual text are extremely important tools for enhancing art and design practices. If an artist can not think critically about someone else’s work then they will struggle to offer in-depth meaning within their own art and design practice. Critical thinking involves being able to consider, understand and respond accordingly to several different aspects of thinking. These aspects include creative thinking, analyzing, problem-solving, reasoning and evaluating (Wallace, Schirato, Bright, Page: 46).
In reading ‘How To See The World’ by Nicholas Mirzoeff , the author offers great insight into our generation and the disregard we have for the natural world that surrounds us. “Aki Hoshide took his own picture in space. Ignoring the spectacle of Earth, space and moon.” (Mirzoeff, Page:8) Mirzoeff compares this visual text to the photograph known as Blue Marble taken in 1972. Blue Marble contains only the Earth and Hoshide’s image contains only himself with a slight reflection of the world and space around him due to his reflective space helmet. Hoshide’s actions speak magnitudes about the time that we live in. The fact that the astronaut turned the camera on himself whilst being faced with one of the most astonishing sights experienceable tells us a lot our generation’s values. We live in a world where the ‘selfie’ is everything. Understanding contrast between the two images and two moments in time helped me to gather a more complex understanding of how context can immensely affect the outcome of art and design processes.
I experienced similar contrast paired with immense irony whilst visiting Wellington Zoo’s tiger enclosure. I walked towards the glass and metal gated compound which was about the size of a tennis court and home to three tigers. I entered a wooden viewing area which provided the public with a place to stand and view the enclosure. This was accompanied by a TV screen showing tigers in their natural habitat. The tigers in the cage were fast asleep and only just visible. They were not moving. The tigers on the TV screens were jumping around playing with each other and making noises, they looked lively and happy. I found the contrast between the tigers on the TV screen and the tigers in the enclosures extremely ironic. The TV screen showed boundless movement and freedom and the enclosure in front of me offered no movement what so ever. Although the Zoo keepers claimed this was a “safe, fun place” (Zookeeper, Wellington Zoo) for the animals to be, I found this statement highly questionable. Thinking critically about the relationship between the visual text presented on the TV screen and the enclosure itself allowed me to recognize the irony and contrast between tigers in Zoo’s and tigers in their natural habitat and relate it to my own design practices. I have always been interested in searching for irony within design and dress.
Looking closely to find connections between an outside visual text and relating it to my own design practices and interests was something I found truly important within this process. I have gained a deeper understanding about context through readings. I agree critical thinking and close analysis of visual text are an extremely important part of art and design practices.