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Chris Campbell

The Useful Critique

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I've only read John Baymore's comment which I totally agree with. A forum is not the platform for a critique. Why would anyone think thus? It's impersonal; no body language nor nuance of tone of voice or ANY of the signalers we use in our daily lives when communicating with others. Just hark back to one's experience in various popular forums such as this one or ClayArts. We all know that if the snarky commentators were sat down in a circle and given the same topics to rerun, there would be hugely differing outcomes in speech patterns and aggression levels. And outcomes.

 

I just posted elsewhere about perhaps considering the capability of uploading/embedding video clips of, let's say for no more than 3 minutes, on these Forums, so that we can see the thickness of the glaze mix and how it pours off your hand, hear your explanations and queries before we all start weighing in with Best Practice.

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Hi I totally agree, Its way too hard to express onself the way you would in person. Just think about those smiley symbols, If I actually lived in a world where people continually winked at me I'd probably be totally creeped out. Its kind the same thing..... T. ;)

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I've only read John Baymore's comment which I totally agree with. A forum is not the platform for a critique. Why would anyone think thus?

 

Well- just to provide some context, I come to art by way of the sciences (I have a PhD in wildlife biology).

 

I'm very used to the peer review process- both formal (through submission of manuscripts) and less formal (through sharing developing publications with colleagues).

 

Much of this process takes place via online exchange. It can be very ruthless. I've had criticism that was painful to digest... and I've also had criticism that I considered (and still consider) fairly off-base. However, the process is invaluable to improving ones work. Even the poorly targeted critiques spur you to reconsider your work.

 

While I know that there are elements of art critique that are tactile, and that nuances of expression (and other subtleties) may be lost, it never occurred to me that exchanging feedback with art colleagues online might not be similarly useful. Obviously the prevailing opinion on these boards runs contrary to this notion... but I don't see why it's such an outlandish concept.

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I've only read John Baymore's comment which I totally agree with. A forum is not the platform for a critique. Why would anyone think thus?

 

Well- just to provide some context, I come to art by way of the sciences (I have a PhD in wildlife biology).

 

I'm very used to the peer review process- both formal (through submission of manuscripts) and less formal (through sharing developing publications with colleagues).

 

Much of this process takes place via online exchange. It can be very ruthless. I've had criticism that was painful to digest... and I've also had criticism that I considered (and still consider) fairly off-base. However, the process is invaluable to improving ones work. Even the poorly targeted critiques spur you to reconsider your work.

 

While I know that there are elements of art critique that are tactile, and that nuances of expression (and other subtleties) may be lost, it never occurred to me that exchanging feedback with art colleagues online might not be similarly useful. Obviously the prevailing opinion on these boards runs contrary to this notion... but I don't see why it's such an outlandish concept.

 

 

Hmmm! Seems to me that comparing the written word to a 3-D object is quite different. There are so many variances to take in to consideration. One of the biggest that strikes me is that a scientific thesis/paper/manuscript is bound by parameters of the thesis statement-the study is mapped out by the intent in the beginning statements. Where is the intent of a 3D object. The viewer may look at a thrown plate, and understand it as a functional or sculptural object, but often there is a blurring of the boundaries. A plate by Volkos does not equate to a plate by Glick. There may be similarities but the differences are much greater. So intent is an unknown, as is the weight, the texture, the feel. All of these things are really hard to judge by looking at a few photos. A while back I was looking at a series of mugs with pointed bottoms. they had to sit on a stand or be placed up side down when not being held. My original thought was how inconvenient, then I read the artists statement about being for people that always carried their coffee around with them-made sense. The feel of the mug in the hand was very comfortable, and drinking out of it was also pleasurable. These aspects were unknown until one use the mug.

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I've only read John Baymore's comment which I totally agree with. A forum is not the platform for a critique. Why would anyone think thus?

 

Well- just to provide some context, I come to art by way of the sciences (I have a PhD in wildlife biology).

 

I'm very used to the peer review process- both formal (through submission of manuscripts) and less formal (through sharing developing publications with colleagues).

 

Much of this process takes place via online exchange. It can be very ruthless. I've had criticism that was painful to digest... and I've also had criticism that I considered (and still consider) fairly off-base. However, the process is invaluable to improving ones work. Even the poorly targeted critiques spur you to reconsider your work.

 

While I know that there are elements of art critique that are tactile, and that nuances of expression (and other subtleties) may be lost, it never occurred to me that exchanging feedback with art colleagues online might not be similarly useful. Obviously the prevailing opinion on these boards runs contrary to this notion... but I don't see why it's such an outlandish concept.

 

 

Hmmm! Seems to me that comparing the written word to a 3-D object is quite different. There are so many variances to take in to consideration. One of the biggest that strikes me is that a scientific thesis/paper/manuscript is bound by parameters of the thesis statement-the study is mapped out by the intent in the beginning statements. Where is the intent of a 3D object. The viewer may look at a thrown plate, and understand it as a functional or sculptural object, but often there is a blurring of the boundaries. A plate by Volkos does not equate to a plate by Glick. There may be similarities but the differences are much greater. So intent is an unknown, as is the weight, the texture, the feel. All of these things are really hard to judge by looking at a few photos. A while back I was looking at a series of mugs with pointed bottoms. they had to sit on a stand or be placed up side down when not being held. My original thought was how inconvenient, then I read the artists statement about being for people that always carried their coffee around with them-made sense. The feel of the mug in the hand was very comfortable, and drinking out of it was also pleasurable. These aspects were unknown until one use the mug.

 

 

I agree that there are some real differences... and that aspects of 3-D art are probably impossible to critique at distance. Mind you- there are aspects of critiquing written work that don't translate well either- face to face is 'better' for that too.

 

Having said this... there are a number of aspects of ceramic work (form, surface treatment, etc.) that seem to be quite amenable to online critique. As an example, in a recent thread where I was soliciting ideas on throwing big, tall objects, a number of people had comments on a drum form that I posted (mostly related to line and weight- stuff that could be taken away from a photo). I found it to be very useful.

 

Not trying to beat a dead horse or anything!

 

Jus

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So Kohaku,

 

Why not take it out of the forum? Say for instance form a group on Yahoo! or one of the other free places; and then invite folks to the group that you think would be knowledgable and amenable to the critique process. I enjoy and have experence in raku, so would be amenable to becoming a member of such a group, and from reading your ideas I expect that your opinions and observations could be valuable to me as well. As I understand it, the Yahoo groups can have a team of moderators so that duty could be shared, members felt to be genuine and with decorum can be given unmoderated status for their posts, and there are photos albums and file sharing capabilities built in.

 

I did such a thing in person in my area with three of my fellow potters and classmates from evening classes. Our idea was to physically meet with two pots each on a monthly interval for 2-3 hours and provide feedback on each others work. This has been a boon for each of us, and has increased our knowledge, our aesthetics and given us a trusted place to get feedback and advice. Understanding that you are somewhat isolated, the online group thing could be a close second.

 

I know of a well known potter who had a one year program where critique was provided via online video conference on a monthly basis with an in person kickoff at the beginning and an in person critique and gallery show at the end of the year. This was a compensated service offered by the potter, and also another alternative.

 

John

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So Kohaku,

 

Why not take it out of the forum? Say for instance form a group on Yahoo! or one of the other free places; and then invite folks to the group that you think would be knowledgable and amenable to the critique process. I enjoy and have experence in raku, so would be amenable to becoming a member of such a group, and from reading your ideas I expect that your opinions and observations could be valuable to me as well. As I understand it, the Yahoo groups can have a team of moderators so that duty could be shared, members felt to be genuine and with decorum can be given unmoderated status for their posts, and there are photos albums and file sharing capabilities built in.

 

I did such a thing in person in my area with three of my fellow potters and classmates from evening classes. Our idea was to physically meet with two pots each on a monthly interval for 2-3 hours and provide feedback on each others work. This has been a boon for each of us, and has increased our knowledge, our aesthetics and given us a trusted place to get feedback and advice. Understanding that you are somewhat isolated, the online group thing could be a close second.

 

I know of a well known potter who had a one year program where critique was provided via online video conference on a monthly basis with an in person kickoff at the beginning and an in person critique and gallery show at the end of the year. This was a compensated service offered by the potter, and also another alternative.

 

John

 

 

John- I think that's a great idea. Give me a couple of days to look into options... and I'll follow up.

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Does a critique need to be a 300 page volume?

 

At our studio I often get asked what I think of a new design or shape. Without thinking I will speak my mind. And more than most, after that thing that bugged me most is corrected, the work is 'better'. And speaking my mind is not a 3 hour diatribe about it either.

 

You guys take yourself way to seriously.

 

I have a friend who does fabulous work, but there is something lacking. And this past weekend after I saw a collection of some of her newer work, it hit me. Change your glaze. That is all that I will suggest to her. Sometimes that is all that is needed. But it will still be a good critique in my book.

 

And yes. One can (seriously, you can!) give a critique of value without touching a work. Is there balance in the work? 2 or 3 shots from different angles of a piece should give you enough insight to make an observation/critique. A clear well balanced photo should reveal most colours. A high res photo that is taken fairly close should reveal pinholes, poor attachment techniques etc.

 

just stop being so friggin serious! Speak your mind. You might think the work has merit, the next person think it is kak. And I think that this last sentence is the reason why most will not give critiques online - What if a peer considers the work they admire as poorly constructed? I suspect that all the 'I will not give a criticque-people' is scared to be outed by others online.

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Does a critique need to be a 300 page volume?

 

At our studio I often get asked what I think of a new design or shape. Without thinking I will speak my mind. And more than most, after that thing that bugged me most is corrected, the work is 'better'. And speaking my mind is not a 3 hour diatribe about it either.

 

You guys take yourself way to seriously.

 

I have a friend who does fabulous work, but there is something lacking. And this past weekend after I saw a collection of some of her newer work, it hit me. Change your glaze. That is all that I will suggest to her. Sometimes that is all that is needed. But it will still be a good critique in my book.

 

And yes. One can (seriously, you can!) give a critique of value without touching a work. Is there balance in the work? 2 or 3 shots from different angles of a piece should give you enough insight to make an observation/critique. A clear well balanced photo should reveal most colours. A high res photo that is taken fairly close should reveal pinholes, poor attachment techniques etc.

 

just stop being so friggin serious! Speak your mind. You might think the work has merit, the next person think it is kak. And I think that this last sentence is the reason why most will not give critiques online - What if a peer considers the work they admire as poorly constructed? I suspect that all the 'I will not give a criticque-people' is scared to be outed by others online.

 

 

oh yah do i agree!

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Phill ... We had a long discussion a while ago here about whether or not anyone can give or take an online critique. The Internet loses facial expression and tone of voice so it seems a whole lot easier to take offense or take the whole thing personally.

 

I think that the world is ever depending on the internet, and soon perhaps all we will have for critique could be the internet. Wouldn't it be wise to toughen up so that one might be able to keep up with today's standards and daily operations?

 

I would also argue that the more critiques you receive, the more you will be able to weed out the bad ones and keep the golden nuggets. Practice makes perfect.

 

The value of an educated critique should be appreciated as a valuable tool. I want someone who can look at my work with an educated eye and tell me their opinion of where it is. I appreciate it so much when someone I respect takes the time out of their day to look, report and make me think.

But ... that said ... the most important thing for me is that phrase "educated eye" ... I have to respect their work and their eye.

 

I agree with you somewhat on this. However, if we live by this standard, then we may be hard pressed to find this ideal candidate. Additionally, it doesn't help the beginning potters have a crack at critiquing more mature work, which I believe is beneficial to the general pottery public. Also, it seems that we would unfortunately weed out a lot of folks with very diverse backgrounds that could potentially speak good truth into our work. 

 

What do you think?

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Did anyone ever act on the idea of seeing if CAD would create a forum titled 'critiques' that was suggested last year?

 

That sure seemed like a good idea and isolates the effort from the rest of the forum so if its goes badly it could be discontinued otherwise it becomes a valuable resource for those that want to be give and receive opinions. At least when someone post some photo's of their work in that forum they are explicitly asking for opinions of their work and they should pretty much be accepting what's offered in the spirit intended.

 

Maybe pin some guidelines such as the expected shots to upload and ask folks that both are asking for or giving input clearly state their background so when it matters to the other party they know. An assigned moderator could then make sure the whole thing stays civil.

 

It seems like it would also be of use to new potters to see the work offered for review and to read the various opinions of the work. 

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Did anyone ever act on the idea of seeing if CAD would create a forum titled 'critiques' that was suggested last year?

 

That sure seemed like a good idea and isolates the effort from the rest of the forum so if its goes badly it could be discontinued otherwise it becomes a valuable resource for those that want to be give and receive opinions. At least when someone post some photo's of their work in that forum they are explicitly asking for opinions of their work and they should pretty much be accepting what's offered in the spirit intended.

 

Maybe pin some guidelines such as the expected shots to upload and ask folks that both are asking for or giving input clearly state their background so when it matters to the other party they know. An assigned moderator could then make sure the whole thing stays civil.

 

It seems like it would also be of use to new potters to see the work offered for review and to read the various opinions of the work. 

 

I always thought that this seemed like a great idea... but there definitely seemed to be a tidal wave of opinion against it.

 

To be fair, I've found that people have been very willing to give candid, useful critique to me if I post and image and explicity ask for comments.

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