|Yale Shanghai Review, 2006 (source)
The following is a brief guide to being a critic at an academic studio review.
The Introduction: The dilemma at this early stage is earning the respect of your audience. If you are working at an office, tell the students the name of the firm, while avoiding your rank (unless you are the principal or a senior staff member). If it is an obscure or unpleasant firm, describe it by the cosmopolitan city it resides in. If you happen to be out of work, make up a fancy name for your freelance practice. Where appearances are concerned, proceed with caution. The students will wear their dowdiest outfits, aging them by ten years. Wear the best clothes you own to show them who is boss.
Pin-Up: You will have a brief moment of repose while the students pin-up their work. Use this time wisely as there might not be another bathroom break for a while.
The Monologue: Once a student starts explaining their project, jot down anything and everything that comes to mind. At this stage the most important task is stocking up on ammunition, because silence must be avoided at all costs. Silence is awkward for the critics and it gives the student the false impression that their work is irreproachable. While you are nodding at the monologue, load the ammunition.
The Attack: Fire, and keep on firing until there is nothing left to fire. If you have stocked up enough ammunition during the monologue, then you will eventually be rewarded by the time keeper, who will ask the group to move on to the next project. If you run out of things to say and there is still time left, then remain silent and allow your colleagues to begin their attacks. In the event that the work is faultless, discreetly step away and use the time for refreshment or a bathroom break.
Repeat the above steps until there are no more projects left and you will hopefully escape before sundown.
E. Sean Bailey
|Statler and Waldorf, The Muppet Show (source)
I recall an interview with Naomi Klein on the CBC following the release of No Logo where she was questioned about her thoughts on the opinions of her critics. Rather than dismissing particular criticisms, she emphasized the validity of her critics’ points of view.
I am inclined to support her way of thinking, with one exception. Both positive and negative feedback is useful when the critic understands the work that is presented and enlightens the author to a relevant perspective that has not been addressed. This type of criticism can expand the scope of how the author thinks about their own work and may generate an awareness of how it could be understood. On the other hand, there is the type of criticism that shows that the critic has not engaged with the project. In this case, their advice cannot be applied to any effect. It goes to show that either the author has not done an adequate job of communicating their ideas, in order for the critic understand their work or the critic has not done an adequate job of trying to understand the work. In the case of the latter, the criticism is not relevant and there is little that the author can do.
Erandi de Silva
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