Critical Response to Art Projects

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It’s a dirty little secret in art and design education that the beloved routine of the “critique” or “crit” doesn’t work. Although many tutors cling to it as an essential way of providing guidance and feedback, plenty of research has shown that it leaves the vast majority of students confused and, in some cases, distressed (trust me, I’ve seen the tears – and from normally “tough” students).
The only purpose the crit appears to serve is to emphasise the tutor’s status as alpha male (or female, but it’s usually male).

The crit was wonderfully lampooned in “Art School Confidential” by Daniel Clowes (transferred moderately well from comic book to big screen in 2005).

The big problem with crits is coming up with things to say. From my observations they have to sound profound, critical and completely vague and meaningless so that what a student thinks is “encouraging” can later be claimed to have been a warning of dire consequences. And with so many students these days, it’s becoming much more difficult to come up with something new.

What we need is a tool to create endless amounts of critical responses to art projects (CRAP) from a few random seeds. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the CRAP generator!

Click the green button to start!

Disclaimer: the words come from a document circulating among staff at the university I worked at, and I don’t know who wrote them (I added some of my own).

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the research I mentioned, drop me a line and I’ll send you a list. It’s interesting that I’ve never found one bit of research that suggests the crit is a positive experience for anyone other than the person doing it.

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