Juntao:   Hi Jeff.  I have a question about the A, B, and C if you still remember what that  means in class.
I am taking the film as example, there are a lot of critics when the film  is showed. I have no idea about the film but I read a lot of critics before I watch the film. My perception will be influenced by the critics, not just coming from the A and B. So here in this situation, how to think of B, and the critics? Can I define the critics as another’s B or C?
Jeff : So, most criticism is an account of A+B+C, though some critics may or may not be all that explicit about C. In other words, when a critic talks about a film or painting or design, the critic is describing the artifact, saying what it means, and doing all of that from a perspective.

When you read criticism, you can say it becomes a part of your lifeworld. That is, your C is changed because you read the criticism. Thus, when you think about or interpret the A and the B, you are doing so from your perspective (C), but this perspective itself has been shaped and even amplified by the criticism.

Juntao:  On the other hand, I feel C, which is my perception, is based on my old experience , not just dependent on the B.

Jeff:   Yes, you are exactly right about this.

Juntao:  So If I have no idea and theory about Art, I can’t be empathic about the specific painting. Take Sam’s story as an example, Although she has no idea about Africa Art, but she still have art theory background to support her appreciating the painting. Otherwise, the viewer may feel it is too far from his life and just want to go away.

Jeff:  Well, since you have some idea about what “art” means and what you are supposed to do with it, you ALWAYS have some way to relate to a specific work. However, as Sam’s excellent example makes clear, your ability to relate to a work of art can be better or worse, depending on how much relevant theory, history, etc., you can bring to your interpretation of the work. Since, in Sam’s example, she didn’t have training in African art, but she DID have training in Western art, she could only relate to the African
art in a generic way as art. But she couldn’t relate to that art’s place in African history or culture or artistic theory, because Sam at that time didn’t have access to that.

Juntao:  I just feel sometimes it is hard to get C even if B is well expressed.

Jeff:  Again, you are exactly right about this. Now matter how well B is expressed, there has to be a good C there to understand it. Sam’s example again really illustrates this: some of that African art she saw that day surely had great connections between A & B, but she didn’t have an adequate C at the time to perceive that. And that frustrated her.

And if you accept all I have written so far, then the next step should also make sense: To understand art or design, we all have to cultivate our C. For Sam in the museum, she wanted to learn more about African art so she could cultivate a C appropriate to that art.

For us in design, I think we all need to cultivate a C that allows us to appreciate and understand why interaction designs are as they are.

The practice of criticism–both reading and writing it–helps people
cultivate that skill.

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