It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

You Will Not Speak During Your Crit

I know I’m not breaking any new ground in design theory here, just noting something that’s been on my mind for the past year or two and I feel the need to say something about it.

Ages ago when I got my first degree, one of my photography instructors laid down a hard and fast rule before the first critique:

You will not speak when your work is being discussed in a critique. You will keep your mouth shut. You cannot respond, cannot make faces, cannot argue, cannot communicate. You are there to listen to what others have to day, not to argue with them, or in any way explain or discuss your work.

From day one we were forced to live with the rule that your work must stand on its own. Once it’s out there, you will not be present to explain it, justify it, or otherwise interpret it for an observer. In other words, if your work needs explaining, then it’s not ready. Granted, this was a fine arts photography class and the focus was on making work to be displayed in public, but being forced to sit and listen really changed how I received and thought about feedback.

So here I am, part-time design student, and in crits people are responding to comments about their work and even arguing with what other people are saying during a crit. Many of the crits I’ve been in have been completely unstructured, leading to one person getting a huge amount of feedback on their work while others don’t receive any feedback at all. To be honest, I’m not sure how productive it is to challenge or argue with the feedback being given to you during a crit. Asking for clarification, counter-examples, or to take a line of reasoning further seems like a legitimate response to feedback in a crit, but going so far as to tel the other person that they’re wrong?

I haven’t personally seen anyone break down in tears or get into a yelling match, but it seems I’m the exception. I’ve heard stories of it getting to the point of tearing up drawings, destroying models, yelling matches, and so on. These aren’t third-hand stories, these are, “Yeah, like last semester when Mary’s model got thrown out the window” or “was that the crit where Bob just started crying and ran out of the room?” If you’re running a crit and people are having breakdowns, destroying work, or getting into yelling matches, what are the students actually learning?

To be clear, I’m not talking about situations of the sort where the instructor declares the work sub-par across the board and bails on the crit. I think “you as a whole didn’t work very hard and this would be a waste of everyone’s time” is a reasonable response, as long as it’s delivered in a factual manner, and not an angry rant.

Maybe it’s the “art vs. design” mentality or maybe it’s just differences between schools, but it’s something I apparently need to get used to if I’m going to continue my studies in this area. Personally, I just can’t get worked up enough about some of these things to actually be angry. If my work is bad, then I need to go work on it more, if yours is bad, you need to go back and work on it more. However, if someone yells at me during a crit or destroys my work, I think I’ll just get up and leave the room. In my opinion, there’s really no point in trying to constructively engage someone throwing a temper tantrum or being violent, especially in what should be a constructive environment.

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posted by jet at 22:05  

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back in the saddle, sort of…

… so time to start catching up on blog stuff.

The PRK went well, I’m working on a nice write-up of the entire procedure and my recovery experiences. Doc says I’m 20/20, possibly 20/15 in the right light, I have no halos or other visual artifacts. I’m still a little light sensitive, so low-light situations feel very high-constrast to me, but I’m completely fine to drive at night, etc.

I cut way back on classes this semester so I could focus more on work and art projects. Next semester I’d like to take some 2D design and color theory, but for now it’s just Intermediate Japanese 2 and a tangible computing class.

A design degree is still the goal, but my focus on ID has turned into a general inquisitiveness about design. I’ve read a bit about the Bauhaus curriculum, and I think I’m going to try and put something together for me that would be a self-directed degree in Design that includes 2D, 3D, interaction, service and maybe some d-theory to boot. I’m still really interested in things like furniture, tangible computing and nomadic technology, but I’m now interested in the fundamental design theory that’s the common ground behind all the different [Foo] Design disciplines.

And process. I’m becoming obsessed with process at a theory level — what defines process, what is common in process between different disciplines, etc.

Oh yeah, and I have a partner and a day job and a cat and friends and other things that I’d like to keep paying attention to while doing all this other stuff.

More soon.

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posted by jet at 17:01  

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