Critical Action is an examination of pluralism in how artworks are judged. As artworks are often equivocal, so too are our beliefs about them. I claim that because of varying levels of knowledge, experiences, tastes, or other biases, an artwork exists in as many contexts as it has viewers. In order to better identify the ways that judgements are formed, I made a series of self portraits and performed a transforming action on each of them. Each action is designed to critique a perceived quality in or adjacent to the work. The portraits are pushed into new modes of understanding
This document explains my own preferences about art. It claims that there are unique beliefs about what qualities are good or bad, and that these beliefs are informed by a wide range of experiences well outside of the artwork itself. My own influences are explored; social anxiety and clinical depression, my love of underground music, and my desire to be unique from my peers have all affected the ways I think about art.
The work in Critical Action is intentionally pluralistic and will be understood in multiple modes. It acts as my proxy, so I can embody my beliefs and be the subject of them. By reacting to and making judgements about my proxied self, the audience participates in completing the work. My aesthetic values become a sort of currency, a statement of my own worth as artist and person.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Art criticism; Aesthetics; Self portraits
Fine Arts Studio (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Art (CIAS)
Dietl, Zachary, "Critical Action" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus