237130_A1_Wk3_Task #3_Component A_Critical Response_Draft 3_23/03/2016

Artists and designers continually draw ideas from their surrounding environments. To glean inspiration from the things they observe, they must look closely and think critically about what it is they see. Once an artist gains an in-depth understanding of a work through analysation, they may use this understanding to influence their own practises. In order to properly comprehend a visual text beyond mere surface appearance, one must consider the technique of contextualising and the matter of constant worldly change.

The context of a visual text is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining the purpose of said text. Context forms the background of every existing artefact. It is the context – why an artefact was created, and the state of the world when it was created – which allows us to connect with a subject on more than a visual level (Clarke, 25). Therefore, it is context which imbues all meaning into any and every visual text, and makes it worth viewing and emulating . However, context is not always readily presented to the audience of a text; it may take some digging to unearth the creator’s intent or the conditions surrounding the creation of an artefact. This is where close examination and critical thinking are advantageous. These allow us to contextualise; to place the subject in the environment it belongs to (Clarke, 25). Looking closely at a visual text and pinpointing its most significant aspects allows us to critically consider links to other events or artefacts with similar features. Once we have identified these common features, we can establish that the various texts were probably created at approximately the same time and in the same place, or were similarly influenced by the global issues of the time/place (Clarke, 25. Ruszkiewicz et al., 34).

Identifying the context of an artefact is an efficient answer to the issue of constant change. Nicholas Mirzoeff addresses this in his book How to See the World. He states that “photographs and videos [or indeed, any visual texts] are our way of trying to see the world… we feel compelled to make images… and share them with others as a key part of our effort to understand the changing world around us” (Mirzoeff 6) and that “there is a new world-view being produced” (Mirzoeff 12) due to “vastly expanded quantities of imagery, implying many different points of view” (Mirzoeff 13). This means that although there is a continually increasing number of visual texts being made available for us to view and be inspired by, the contexts in which these are created and circulated change steadily. As more and more artefacts are released or created, the contexts of older visual texts are replaced with newer, more relevant contexts that relate to the more recent artefacts.
One such example is Blue Marble (below). Once a life-changing image that revolutionised the way we saw ourselves on the spectrum of universal significance (Mirzoeff 4), Blue Marble has now been replaced with more complex and neoteric images of the earth, and so its context has changed. It has transitioned from the one and only view we had of our home planet, into ‘just another satellite image’ (Mirzoeff 8,9).
Context is always changing, becoming either updated or outdated (Ruszkiewicz et al. 34). This makes visual analysation and critical thinking all the more important, as we need it  now more than ever to determine the most relevant context belonging to an artefact, so that we may allow this context to influence our own art and design practises.

Blue Marble
Schmitt, Jack. NASA. Apollo 17 Crew. Blue Marble. 1972. Photograph. NASA Johnson Space Centre. Przyborski, Paul. “NASA Visible Earth: The Blue Marble from Apollo 17”. visiblearth.nasa.gov. NASA. 22 March 2016. Web. 23 March 2016.

Should an artist fail to understand the world around them, and the work of other artists in context, they would no longer have any constant and reliable source of inspiration and would cease to create art embedded with meaning drawn from these inspirations. Therefore, the use of close examination and critical thinking to determine the meaning of or behind a text remains a relevant skill that every artist and designer should familiarise themselves with. After all, one’s own art and design practise is determined by how well one understands the art and design practises of others, and these practises cannot be understood without context that has been identified using a process of looking closely and thinking critically.

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237130_A1_Wk3_Task #3_Component A_Critical Response_Draft 2_23/03/2016

Artists and designers are constantly drawing ideas from the world around them. In order to glean inspiration from the things they observe, analysation in the form of looking closely and thinking critically is required. This allows artists to develop an in-depth understanding of visual texts, and use this understanding to influence their practises. In order to interpret visual texts, one must take into account the technique of contextualising and the matter of constant worldly change.

One of the most crucial factors in determining the purpose of a visual text is its context. Context forms the background of every existing artefact. It is the context – why an artefact was created, and the state of the world when it was created – which allows us to connect with what we see on more than a visual level (Clarke, 25). Therefore, it is context which imbues all meaning into any and every visual text, and makes it worth viewing. However, context is not always readily presented to the audience of a text. It may take some digging to unearth the creator’s intent or the conditions surrounding the creation of an artefact. This is where close examination and critical thinking are advantageous. These allow us to contextualise; to place the subject in the environment to which it belongs (Clarke, 25). Looking closely at a visual text and pinpointing its most significant aspects allows us to critically consider links to other events or artefacts with similar features, therefore establishing that the various texts were probably created at approximately the same time and in the same place, or were similarly influenced by the global issues of the time/place (Clarke, 25. Ruszkiewicz et al., 34).

Identifying the context of an artefact is a suitable answer to the matter of constant change. Nicholas Mirzoeff addresses this in his book How to See the World. He states that “photographs and videos [or indeed, any visual texts] are our way of trying to see the world… we feel compelled to make images… and share them with others as a key part of our effort to understand the changing world around us” (Mirzoeff 6) and that “there is a new world-view being produced” (Mirzoeff 12) due to “vastly expanded quantities of imagery, implying many different points of view” (Mirzoeff 13). This means that because of the increasing number of visual texts being made available for us to view and be inspired by, the contexts in which these texts are created and circulated is being steadily replaced with newer, more relevant contexts that relate to more recently released visual texts.
One such example is Blue Marble (below). Once a life-changing image that revolutionised the way we saw ourselves on the spectrum of universal significance (Mirzoeff 4), Blue Marble has now been replaced with more updated images of the earth, and so its context has changed. It has transitioned from the one and only view we had of our home planet, into ‘just another satellite image of the Earth’ (Mirzoeff 8,9).
Context is always changing, becoming either updated or outdated (Ruszkiewicz et al. 34). This makes visual analysation and critical thinking all the more important, as we need it more now than ever to determine the most relevant context belonging to an artefact, so that we may allow this context to influence our own art and design practises.

Blue Marble
Schmitt, Jack. NASA. Apollo 17 Crew. Blue Marble. 1972. Photograph. NASA Johnson Space Centre. Przyborski, Paul. “NASA Visible Earth: The Blue Marble from Apollo 17”. visible earth.nasa.gov. NASA. 22 March 2016. Web. 23 March 2016.

If artists failed to understand the the work of other artists, and the world around them, they would cease to create art with meaning. Therefore, the use of close examination and critical thinking to determine the meaning of a text remains a relevant skill that every artist and designer should employ. After all, one’s own art and design practise is determined by how well one understands the art and design practises of others; these practises cannot be understood without context that has been identified through critical thought.

237130_A1_Wk3_Task #3_Component A_Critical Response_Draft 1_23/03/2016

Artists and designers are constantly extracting ideas from the world they live in. In order to glean inspiration from the things they observe, they must look closely and think critically about these things. Analysation allows artists to develop an in-depth understanding of visual texts, and use this understanding to influence their own art and design practises. In order to properly analyse, one must take into account the technique of contextualising and the matter of constant worldly change.

One of the most crucial factors in determining the purpose of a visual text is the context belonging to it. The context of a visual text is the most important factor in determining the purpose of said text. Context forms the background of every existing artefact. It is the context – why an artefact was created, and the state of the world when it was created – which allows us to connect with what we see on more than a visual level (Clarke, 25). Therefore, it is context which imbues meaning into every visual text, and makes it worth viewing. However, context is not always readily presented to the audience of a text. It may take some digging to unearth the creator’s intent or the conditions surrounding the creation of an artefact. This is where close examination and critical thinking are advantageous. These allow us to contextualise; to place the subject in its natural environment (Clarke, 25). Pinpointing the most significant aspects of a visual text allows us to make links to other events or artefacts with similar features, therefore establishing that the various texts were probably created at approximately the same time and in the same place, or were influenced by the global issues of the time/place (Clarke, 25. Ruszkiewicz et al., 34).

Identifying the context of an artefact is an adequate solution to the ‘problem’ of constant change. Nicholas Mirzoeff addresses this in his book How to See the World. He states that “photographs and videos [or indeed, any visual texts] are our way of trying to see the world… we feel compelled to make images… and share them with others as a key part of our effort to understand the changing world around us” (Mirzoeff 6) and that “there is a new world-view being produced” (Mirzoeff 12) due to “vastly expanded quantities of imagery, implying many different points of view” (Mirzoeff 13). This means that because of the increasing number of visual texts being made available for us to view and be inspired by, the contexts in which these texts are created and circulated is being steadily replaced with newer, more relevant contexts that relate to more recently released visual texts.
One such example is Blue Marble (below). Once a life-changing image that revolutionised the way we saw ourselves on the spectrum of universal significance (Mirzoeff 4), Blue Marble has now been replaced with more recent images of the earth, and so its context has changed. It has transitioned from the one and only view we had of our home planet, into yet another rendering of something we’ve seen numerous times (Mirzoeff 8,9).
Context is always changing, becoming either updated or outdated (Ruszkiewicz et al. 34). This makes visual analysation and critical thinking all the more important, as we need it more now than ever to determine the most relevant context belonging to an artefact.

Blue Marble
Schmitt, Jack. NASA. Apollo 17 Crew. Blue Marble. 1972. Photograph. NASA Johnson Space Centre. Przyborski, Paul. “NASA Visible Earth: The Blue Marble from Apollo 17”. visible earth.nasa.gov. NASA. 22 March 2016. Web. 23 March 2016.

If artists did not understand the the work of other artists, and the world around them, they would cease to create art with meaning. Therefore, the use of close examination and critical thinking to determine the meaning of a text remains a relevant skill that every artist and designer should utilise. After all, one’s own art and design practise is determined by how well one understands the art and design practises of others.

237130_A1_Wk3_Task #2_Writing Response_A response to Wallace, Schirato, and Bright’s “Critical Thinking”_14/03/2016

Ultimately, this text is intended to be a guide of sorts for university students in “thinking, researching, and writing for success”. Its purpose is to provide the reader with the skills to enhance their ability to think critically and analyse; to identify key terms and put them in context with what the author is trying to express, using logic and creative thinking to form conclusions about the author’s intent. The text is successful in this sense. I myself am the exact embodiment of the intended target audience, and I found the text easy to understand and engaging due to the casual phrasing and the way the authors ‘speak’ directly to the reader using a second person point of view.
The point I found most intriguing was that we must “test” every key word or phrase of everything we read for “reasonableness”. This means that we must second-guess the meanings of words that could be interpreted in more than one way, to ensure we fully understand what it is the author intends us to take away from the text. I hadn’t wholly considered this to be a problem, but it caused me to realise that many of the texts I’ve read could have meant something different than what I took away from them. The author’s thorough explanations of the most reliable ways to ‘absorb’ academic texts was enlightening.
Despite the text being engrossing and informative, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it. I found the author’s tone to be slightly condescending, as if they were writing for an incompetent child. Their authoritave stance was a little too overbearing, and I found it off-putting when reading.

237130_A1_Wk3_Task #1_Understanding key terms_The relevance of context to critical thinking_14/03/2016

In essence, critical thinking is the act of in-depth analysation. In order to analyse we must identify the aspects of an artefact that define it (Clarke, 25); its distinguishing features, origins, and the intent behind its creation (Ruszkiewicz, et al., 32). These aspects are what form the context of a visual text. Without context, a subject is less understandable. When we are provided with the context of a subject we are given background information, and can therefore form new opinions based off the way this information has changed our view of the subject (Clarke, 25).

237130_A1_Wk2_Task #4_Visual text analysis_An excerpt of an artwork (imagery from the Left Bank mural)_16/03/2016

The above image is an excerpt from the Left Bank Graffiti Wall. This was painted for visitors to the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, as a promotional device that would continue to mean something of importance to Wellington citizens long after the festival had finished.
I believe it was intended for the audience to see it as a celebration of Wellington’s cultural diversity, however I see it as a representation of something different.

The image speaks of how our lives have begun to revolve so much around food that we have begun to lose our identities as individuals. We are now only seen as the cultures we belong to and the specialized cuisines of these cultures. We have stopped existing as singular beings and have become one of many who are represented by the food most consumed by their populace.
The integration of vegetables into the hair of the figures in this image is suggestive of the idea that we are letting our appetites define us and dictate how the rest of society sees us, while the covering of the eyes with fruit is symbolic of the suppression of our identities as individuals.

237130_A1_Wk2_Task #3_Comparing and contrasting_Left Bank Graffiti Wall vs. Slow Boat Records_16/03/2016

Key Similarity
Both sites are used as forms of advertisement. The Left Bank mural promoted the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, and now promotes the cultural diversity and culinary creativity of Wellington City and its inhabitants.
Slow Boat Records promotes itself, and the products it sells; records, cds, tapes, posters, and other musical merchandise. The t-shirts of people passing in and around Slow Boat Records are also promotional; the bands or brands the wearer of the shirt chooses to endorse are promoted to the rest of the general public who view the shirt.

Key Difference
The key difference between the two sites is their establishment.
The Left Bank graffiti wall was constructed on an already existing site. It was painted just last year on a wall that had already been standing; a wall which was not built for the sole purpose of being the canvas on which to paint the mural, but was built for the purpose of simply being a wall. The Visa Wellington On a Plate mural was added to a construction that already existed as a stand-alone subject, therefore transforming it into a new subject and giving it a whole different meaning.

Slow Boat Records differs from the Left Bank graffiti wall in that it is a long-established building and was constructed specifically for the purpose it currently serves. The entire building is a record store. It was built to be a record store in 1989 ago, and has remained so for 27 years. It itself is a stand-alone subject, not a modification of a stand-alone subject.
The t-shirts of the pedestrians and customers of Slow Boat Records are much the same as the store. Each t-shirt is an individual product, made specifically for the buyer who consciously chose to buy and wear that t-shirt. The shirts are not modified versions of other products – they are stand-alone pieces.

237130_A1_Wk2_Task #2_Field Trip Site description and analysis_Left Bank Graffiti Wall_16/03/2016

Situated in the dimly lit alleyway that connects Victoria Street to Left Bank Arcade is the Visa Wellington On a Plate 2015 mural by Ruth Robertson-Taylor and Rachael Gannaway, also known as the Left Bank graffiti wall. Viewers are free to come and go as they please, and take in one of the prime examples of Wellington’s creative culture. The bright block colours of the painting that spans the 15.3 metre long brick wall greatly contrast the dirt caked cement floor and discarded cigarette butts littered down the alley. The pop art style and use of shapely geometric forms is almost absurd in a place that can only be defined as ‘grunge’.

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McGrath, Molly. Photograph. Left Bank Graffiti Wall, Left Bank Arcade. Wellington.
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McGrath, Molly. Photograph. Left Bank Graffiti Wall, Left Bank Arcade. Wellington.

Food is an obvious theme throughout the mural. The Wellington Culinary Events Trust commissioned the artists to create a piece that “represented the strong connection between Wellington and its hospitality community” (Sarah Meikle) for the Wellington On a Plate Festival in 2015. The mural stands as a “lasting reminder of the festival’s influence on the city” (Sarah Meikle). Imagery of chopsticks, wine bottles, and teacups encompass the different cultures and lifestyles of Wellington citizens, those for whom the mural was created. This unification of diversity could only have garnered a positive reaction from the festival-goers, as it tells of the differences we have had to overcome in order to embrace one another’s cultures and live harmoniously. The wall acts as a promotion not only for the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, but also for Wellington’s culinary community in general.

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McGrath, Molly. Selfie in front of ‘Visa Wellington On a Plate 2015’ plaque. Photograph. Left Bank Mural, Left Bank Arcade. Wellington.

237130_A1_Wk2_Task #1_Field Trip Site description and analysis_Slow Boat Records on Cuba_16/03/2016

Slow Boat Records is a long stretch of a store set in a slight alcove halfway down Cuba Street – number 183, to be exact. Its outer walls are bedecked with musical posters and paraphernalia, and faded yellow signage announces its name and purpose; SLOW BOAT RECORDS. BUY SELL TRADE; RECORDS, COMPACT DISCS, TAPES.
The blazing red emblem – a junk ship silhouetted against a half-set sun – is what allows pedestrians who spare Slow Boat a passing glance to connect with what the store has to offer. It exists primarily to make available the music that was at its prime prior to the store’s establishment in 1989, the kind of music that has become hard to find online or in chain stores. Slow Boat Records allows its customers to take home their own little piece of the past in the form of audio.

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McGrath, Molly. Doorway/entrance of Slow Boat Records. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

Cardboard cutouts that dangle in the window of David Bowie and Elvis in their signature get-ups reflect the styles of people passing by and through the store. Men in sleek business suits who have jumped on the hipster-combover hairstyle bandwagon resemble modernised Presley’s, while more daring expressionists with made-up faces and bizarrely printed shirts reflect Ziggy Stardust’s style.
Some choose to portray their musical appreciation in a subtler manner; people in well loved t-shirts with faded band logos can be seen frequently milling in and around Slow Boat – staff included.

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McGrath, Molly. Employee at Slow Boat Records. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

Stacks of records and CD’s sprinkled with dust garnered from the storage rooms out back fill the maze of shelves inside. The unobtrusive lighting and constant beat of background music creates a calming and welcoming atmosphere. Ultimately, the store is a place for lovers of song to come together and celebrate their collective tastes. It is a safe haven in which to relax and meet others to whom you can relate and connect and, most importantly, to find and rediscover the music you know and love.

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McGrath, Molly. Selfie with Slow Boat Records storefront. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

237130_A1_Wk1_Task #4_Writing Response_A response to Walker’s ‘Writing From The Gut’_09/03/2016

The author feels that the Maori race is “delegitimised” by Pakeha, and that in the act of trying to connect with the Maori, Pakeha are only complicating this problem. ‘The problem’ is that Maori are seen as an uneducated race. The author believes that the only reason this perspective is held by Pakeha is because their methods of education differ to those the Maori use. To change this, she wishes to educate the masses of delegitimised Maori using cultural methods they are familiar with.
I found this text compelling as it was written in first person, but the author spoke on behalf of an entire race, and on behalf of anybody who felt their own identity was also suppressed by the academic system. She uses personal pronouns when describing the Maori race and their customs, as she feels she is acting as a representative for everyone who identifies as Maori. This point of view is effective in communicating the purpose of the text; people must unite within their ethnic groups in order to retain their cultural values and traditions. The indignant tone of voice used throughout the text forces us to think about the issue at hand and why it is indeed an issue. I appreciated that the author used her personal experience to bring to light the struggles others are also facing.