The process of looking clearly and thinking critically is vital to our understanding of the author, subject, audience and means of communication. When visual texts are put into context we are then able to think critically about these ideas and analyze them to the best of our abilities. The way that we critically examine these ideas are altered by our personal perspectives and this can then produce different outcomes of the visual text we view.
NASA, Apollo 17 Crew. Blue Marble. 1972. Photograph. NASA Johnson Space Centre. Web. 22 March 2016
When a visual text is put into context forms a setting for the viewer to interpret the artist’s main purpose for this text. Context related to the environment, subject matter, audience, who inspired this work and overall just leads to a deeper understanding of the visual text. This image above of Blue Marble is an image that everyone recognizes of the earth and is an image that lots of people have grown up with. However, when put into context this photograph of Blue Marble has only ever been seen by three Apollo 17 members in 1972, so this photograph of Planet Earth could be drastically changed by now (2016.) This level of understanding that we encounter when we put things into context makes clarity of the ideas shown in visual texts.
“We assemble a world from pieces, assuming that what we see is both coherent and equivalent to reality. Until we discover it is not.” (Mirzoeff, Nicholas 10)
Being able to analyze and examine texts is key to art and design practices because it allows us to look closely at the work and determine what it consists of, or what it means or implies (Wallace, Andrew, Tony, Phillipa. Critical Thinking. 46) rather than just looking at the surface content and message. Everyone holds different perspectives on the world and these perspectives are altered by different experiences, our cultures, our knowledge etc. These perspectives change the way we analyze visual texts because we interpret everything differently according to our viewpoints, this then leads to different outcomes that the artist may not have encountered or thought about during the design/art process. I came across this while analyzing the bananas fair trade mark. One person in my group analyzed this as a way to make more money and it not helping the inequality in the fair trade system. However, I saw this advertising as a way of changing morals as people will be buying better quality goods. We both hold these perspectives because of our different upbringings and knowledge on the situation.
Critical thinking is the main aspect of understanding art/design practices as for something to be put into context and examined, you must think critically to go beyond the surface of the visual texts and be able to explore and understand what is seen. This is important to art and design practices because we allow ourselves to take an in-depth view into the ideas being portrayed. I used critical thinking when I was analysing billboard advertising and fruit and vegetable advertising in Central Welling where I noticed a significant contrast between the two. Both these types of advertising were directed at the general public, however, the billboard advertising had more visual elements to tell a story to the viewer- as the public only have a few seconds to view this as they drive past. whereas the fruit advertising is very minimalistic, plain and is more focused on quality and price rather than imagery to capture the attention of the public.
Becoming a critical thinker allows us to interpret contextual information and then analyze this for a much more in-depth description beyond the surface content and message of the visual text.