This was probably the most formal critique we’ve done in this class. Professor Ruby prompted us to talk about each project in terms of its design elements and principles, and we had a surprising amount to talk about.
Toward the end of each critique, we discussed what the artist could do to extend their project. For Julia’s project (a jar preserving the ephemera of a relationship), Celeste thought of a romantic narrative that could be built from the piece, Rae thought of a companion piece—an opaque jar with a clear lid that would force the viewer to put more effort into seeing the objects inside, Ruby suggested making a timeline of the relationship using the items contained in the jar, and I wanted to create a museum exhibit about the relationship and fully contextualize and openly display all the bits of romantic ephemera.
This aspect of the critique underscored how differently each of my classmates sees a given piece. I’m a child of the 90’s. All my life, I’ve heard that you, me, and every amoeba living under my fingernails are all special and have our own unique perspectives that no one else shares. However, I spent enough time on Livejournal in the early 00’s to appreciate that this is a often a weaker sentiment than Barney and Baby Bop implied. However, listening to my classmates and their wide-ranging ideas for where to take the same project was exciting and mind-expanding in the same way that a good collection of short stories or essays on the same theme is. I find that I often don’t really understand an issue until I’ve read at least three perspectives on it: my understanding of Spinoza owes considerably more to the Cambridge Companion to Spinoza than my initial reading of his works, even though I don’t really agree with any but the most uncontroversial positions from those essays. In the same way, I probably won’t wind up doing anything like my classmates’ suggestions for expanded works, but each proposed project enriched my understanding of the possibilities contained in each piece and all the possible approaches one could take to a given project.
I’m not sure how I’d expand on my eye chart valentine. I could make it larger and more like a “real” eye chart, or I could make it possible to project it and do something resembling an autorefractor machine. I could create color blindness tests out of flower petals. I could partner with someone who is hard of hearing and help create an audio piece about the effect that hearing aids had on their life. I could create a series of images about the various ways that eyeglasses have improved my life and use them to promote charities that provide eyeglasses to low-income people or help people start eyeglass businesses in the developing world. For the time being, though, this is my companion piece. It expresses the open-mouthed awe I felt at seeing nature clearly for the first time. It’s a little silly, but so are five year-olds with new glasses.