This short assignment (at least 500 words, posted on your class website) asks you to visit the Quick Center on campus and to find a piece of art to observe and analyze. Some pieces are on display in the lobby or other open areas, and there are many more paintings and pieces in the galleries. Wander around until you find something that captures your attention. Once you find a particular work to observe, study it for at least thirty minutes. It could help to take notes of your observations at this time. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of art history or experience with art criticism. This is about your observations and insights. Your writing should address some combination of the following prompts and questions:
- What details do you notice? Think about different possible aspects of the art: subject, character, setting, narrative, color, medium and material (e.g., oil paint, water color, pencil, wood, stone, etc.), light, texture. What is the significance of these details? How do they shape your understanding of the art? How do they affect your experience of it? How do they shape its meaning? Similarly, how does the larger situation (the date the art was produced, who the artist was and their background, and even the immediate situation: the lighting in the room, where the art is located, what time of day it is, what other people are around, etc.) shape your experience or understanding of the art work?
- Orient yourself toward the artwork in different ways. Focus on its social meaning, what it depicts, what its subject is, and how it contributes to our understanding of this subject or takes a position or offers a perspective on this subject. Alternately, focus on how it affects you, how it makes you feel, and what sort of experience you have looking at it. Alternately, focus on its technique, on the actual work of art itself, how the materials are used.
- How does this piece of art fit in with our conversation about the relationship between images, remix, and commodification? What aspects of the world does the work draw upon, and how does it reconfigure them or present them in a new way? How does it shape our understanding of reality? How does it contribute to or work against commodification – the way images sometimes present an ideal reality that is easily consumed and discarded and that obscures the labor and capital necessary to produce and sustain this ideal?