I have been reflecting and feeling the need for a new project to keep my #4life badge in the DS106 community. It is true that one cannot keep up the intensity of experience that comes with doing the full course for the first time. Yet, I have kept involved and creating for the last year.

One of the things I notice is that I have become lazy about narrating my work and, if I am honest, lazy about giving time to the art being created by the community. This ties in for me with my other involvement in online educational communities – how do we learn/support the type of engagement that encourages people to join into the wonder that the web can be? 

And then this lands on my stream:

I follow and get inspired by The Art Assignment daily. I often adapt their assignments for our Daily Create in DS106. I have a list as long as my arm of art assignments I will try one day.  I watched Sarah talk about how to critique at a time when I was struggling with some of the dark under belly of the web – it is just not okay to threaten people’s lives and harass them because I disagree with their views. I have been shocked by what I have read and have written a post to help digital storytelling students at York College to engage with these issues. None of this felt constructive enough. 

And then this lands on my stream: The critique Assignment! Somebody called Joanna (update: who read this little post and reposted on the blog, thank you Joanna)set up a Tumblr to do the very thing that Sarah suggested in the Critique episode. Joanna is on fire and I have not been able to keep up with all her critiques – but what a great thing to do: To give time to fellow artists to explore their art. I read her manifesto for this project and wow! I have been following since day 1 and thinking about it. I could not make the commitment to publish as regularly as she does, but surely I could do something?

And this morning Art on the Couch was born. I firmly believe in the ‘show, don’t talk’ ethos of DS106, although I do use 10 words where one would suffice most of the time. (For those of you visiting from other web spaces: DS106 is a Digital Storytelling Course which run on the web and at various universities mainly in the US)

I was inspired by Joanna and Sarah, but I do not have their skill. What little I know about art critique I have picked up from learning to comment on DS106 blog posts. I am just a beginner artist and never in my life did I think of myself as a budding art critic – it takes a lifetime to learn to do this well. I am just a psychologist playing at being an artist and loving it. 

I did what I do best. Google it. 

I have a whole lot of resources to try: I have learnt about the Percy Principles of composition, found an awesome Prezzi on the process critiquing art and this incredible wiki that seems to have everything I ever needed to know about critiquing art. There are also the resources Sarah recommends and I will be publishing the transcript of her programme in the next post – it deserves study. 

My commitment to my DS106 fellow travellers

I will limit what I do to DS106 art. I have created a submission form for you to submit stuff you want critiqued knowing that I am learning as I go.

Click here to go to the form and submit.

I found the work of a wonderful man. His name is Marvin Bartel and he has a lot of material online to help people like my learn art critique. From his work I created a Google Form which I will use to do each critique. You can view it but not edit it. 

My plan:

  1. I will publish one critique per week
  2. The post will be a summary of the Google form I use to work through the piece.
  3. Comments are open and it is my hope that we can use the comments to talk about each piece with the artist as we go
  4. Each month I will publish a summary post with the critiques for that month
  5. I will tag everything to do with this project #artonthecouch you can use this URL to find all posts tagged: http://theds106shrink.tumblr.com/tagged/artonthecouch

I think if you tag any art you want critiqued this way anywhere on the web I can find it on Google eventually. Clearly easier for me if you use the submit form. 

I plan to keep reading and updating resources under that tag as I go. The Google form is laborious but it take on board something I believe in strongly enough to have written a whole book about it – engagement takes time. Sarah talks about this in her episode and Joanna is mindful of this in her manifesto when she commits to spending at least 5 minutes with the art she critiques. 

It is clearly possible that nobody will submit anything. I can live with that even if I shall cry daily into my coffee that my great project is bombing…So, initially I will take the Daily Create site, select random and pick one submission from that random daily create to work with. I will do the same with the assignment bank, pick a random assignment and select from it. (Update: jimgroom suggested I also use our DS106 in[Spire] website, where we submit art that inspires us from the whole of the community. I will select from there too).

In my ideal world other DS106 peeps will want to join in and write up critiques. I can repost anything tagged #artonthecouch here on Tumblr. if you use the same tag on twitter, I can find stuff elsewhere on the web. There is a rule if you do submit a critique you must fill in the google form for the piece of art you are critiquing. I am doing this to make sure we show we care for our art by spending time with it and reflecting on its meaning beyond ‘interesting’. 

I am borrowing the rules for this project from Tilde Club. Awesome project but that is another story.

– No drama. What constitutes drama? There is a Mary J. Blige song called “No More Drama.” If Mary J. Blige would think it was drama, it is drama.
– This is a guilt-free project and total disaster is ALWAYS a possible outcome.
– This thing is a de-facto whitey sausagefest so everyone be actively, aggressively cool and sweet and remember that the only binary that’s real is the one that we use on our microchips.

No drama, guilt-free and no binaries. Now, that is something this shrink can get behind. You? 

If this takes off in our little corner of the Internet then I can create a dedicated Tumblr for DS106 Art on The Couch.