The online crit and imagining the not yet realised

On the 7th of June I’ll be in conversation with Professor Paul Lowe about the ‘Online Crit’ as part of our online seminar series (you can sign up here).

An interesting idea surfaced during the chat we had in preparation for the session: being able to imagine the not-yet-realised is fundamental to the creative process. There is no making without intent, and there is no intent without the imagined.

CC Chris Richmond

This idea is so embedded in creative work that I wonder if we forget it’s there. It’s certainly important when considering Online Creative Education as the move to online tends to raise questions about the material which risk demoting the importance of the conceptual.


However, this must be considered not only in the context of creative practice but also creative education. The education process, writ large, being learning and becoming expressed via making, the ‘via’ being key. This is reflected in our assessment criteria which covers Enquiry, Knowledge, Process, Communication and Realisation.

While we might be assessing technical skill within these, when we consider Realisation we are most likely to be focusing on the Realisation of an evolving set of ideas. Given this. the final output or artifact offered in response to a creative brief becomes an emblem of the overall creative process. It should be used actively as a gateway into telling the story of that process and the thinking therein. This is why we ask students to submit a portfolio which contains that story and not to simply hand in a final piece.

The Crit and the physical

The traditional crit involves a group moving around a studio variously questioning and defending thinking-as-represented through a key pieces of work. Of course, technique and craft are likely to be discussed but they should only form part of the conversation. The crit is not a technical workshop in this regard and, if done well, should be scaffolding for telling the story of process, reflecting on thinking and imagining that which does not yet exist (as distinct from attempting to hone in on a ‘correct answer’).

Given this, physical presence is not fundamental to the crit and it could be argued that taking the crit online helps to focus on critique (in the best sense) development and becoming precisely because it is ‘immaterial’.

I’m not claiming that the tactile, the olfactic or certain forms of spatiality are not valuable in some crits, but they need not be fundamental to the process. For example, it would be rare for anyone to touch work as part of a crit.

Creative Education Online involves geographically dispersed making connected by collective questioning and critique. These things combined become ‘studio’. The online crit can, and should, be central to this as a location for telling the story of the work and imagining the not yet realised.

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