Criticism – It should be open Season

If you struggle reading white on black…go here…

For those who venture into poetry, writing and various art forms, in my case it is photography, there comes a time when your work is subjected to some form of critique.
   Most open forums I know of suffer the ‘positive critique syndrome’, where anyone can offer a favourable, sometimes gushing, comment about how good your work is, clearly without offending you in any way.  The ‘good old like’ button comes to mind in social networks.   The problem with positive critique, aside from encouraging you to continue along the same route you have travelled, is that the artist or writer never learns anything from this.

Criticism in some way must be part of the creative process, in my opinion.  I am no expert at all, it is just that offering my work for criticism provides responses which encourage or discourage.  There comes a time of course, when critique is negative… basically somebody does not like your work and chooses to comment about it.  The more mature and perhaps less sensitive may well take negative critique in their stride as part of the learning curve to betterment.  I certainly do, but it does raise the question ‘what qualifies a person to offer critique?’

The first response to a poor critique is often that the critic just didn’t know what he or she was talking about.  Artists and authors frequently revert to this defence rather than attempting to learn from the experience.  The question is, should they accept criticism from just any Tom, Dick or Harry or should this be confined to somebody well qualified to give it.  Well the answer to that, in my opinion, is accept it from anyone!  How well qualified do you have to be to appreciate an image or a book?  Artists will present their work to a generally cultured and discerning  public which is both appreciative and disproving.  Why should only the appreciative view be heard?

Soup Mix – by Andrew Field – Love it or hate it, tell me why?

Of course criticism can be both constructive and destructive, it may be weak (emotional  or inductive) or strong, the latter being substantiated with rules, mathematical  proof or formal logic.  Clearly, in the latter case, some formal understanding of the rules, the proofs and the logic may be appropriate.

As a photographer, I generally take images to provide work which will please my peer group and accept that when placed in the public domain, as it is, that there will be somebody out there who just doesn’t like the work.  Remember, a wondrously good image comes from a thousand snap shots, no matter how good you are.  The taboos in our society about unqualified negative critique seem to suppress valuable input from those who have such critique to offer.  We should be encouraging negative criticism and learning from the experience, but the best critique of all is that of self criticism.  We should all do that occasionally.