. . .

     To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.


Critique, and by extension criticism, is a vital part of both the everyday creative-practice and teaching in the creative disciplines. The critique of creative works, such as buildings, drawings, images, or artworks, is pivotal for creative practitioners and the broader public to understand the work’s creative and cultural value. In other words, not just judgements of the aesthetic pleasure that the creative work might provide, but, more broadly, what cultural values and critical positions are expressed by the work. However, there are fewer and fewer opportunities and forums in which to mount such cultural critiques of creative practice and its production. The nature and role of critique is changing. So to the public’s perceived value of critique has waned since the 60s, and today is largely thought of as exclusionary intellectual navel-gazing that only permeates the walls of universities and academic journals. The more familiar everyday practice of debating the latest shock-jock celebrity gossip or news-cycle driven political sound-bite seems preferable to deeper and more meaningful interrogations of cultural and environmental questions. It would appear that perhaps both the critique and the critic are in need of cultural reinvention.

Critique 2013 aims to provide a forum that will to bring together engaged professionals and scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds, fields of knowledge, production, and methodological approaches to discuss and debate the role, value and future of both traditional and emerging forms of critique; such as, written critique in the form of blogs, wikis, and social media, to newsprint, to academic journals; opinion versus critique; verbal critique; relationship between critics and creative practitioners; designed artefacts as critique; and curated exhibitions as critique. Specifically, this conference aims to explore the following three broad categories of critique:

a)     Critique in design education and creative practice (verbal & visual, all forms)

b)     Self-critique in design education and creative practice (reflective practice)

c)     Critique through creative works of things/ideas/policy/ in the world (design as research)

With the increased popularity of more accessible journalistic genres of writing, such as newspapers, magazines, and online formats like blogging, wikis and chat rooms, according to Naomi Stead, opinion is prefaced over rigorously researched argument. Critique’s relevancy, it would seem, has been highjacked by the Facebook era of accessible and instantaneous streams of opinion that comment on all facets of cultural life. How can this territory be re-claimed; how can it regain its authoritative voice and be made relevant once more? In order to be relevant, Nancy Levinson believes critics must “critique from the ground rather than the ‘tower’” but there must be a balance and better understanding of the difference between critique and opinion.  According to Thomas Fischer, critics should “strive to be intelligent and political leaders, envisioning different futures, making new connections and providing insightful and unexpected explanations for seemingly mundane things.” Critique, according to Andrea Dean, “enables a clearer understanding of designs whose strengths and shortcomings [designers] and those interested in their work may otherwise only intuit or comprehend incompletely.” The critic’s role therefore is not to act as self-appointed gatekeepers of perceived notions of good taste or judgement, but to make objectively informed accounts of the creative work that make accessible the cultural value of the work whilst also making suggestions about other architectural/urban/cultural/environmental ingredients that may make the tangible value of the work richer and more meaningful to the public. The objective of the critique, therefore, is also to be a tool through which to discuss bigger-picture questions about the world and our place in it.

This is particularly important for professional design disciplines where the translation of design ideas into built objects, such as buildings, drawings, images, or artefacts, forms the fundamental goal of design creativity. The pressures of commercial creative practice and the perceived lack of relevance of written critique have led to the relative extinction of critique-focused practices. For example, any critique that fails to cast a critical gaze upon its own production remains purely in the realm of self-perpetuating theory and fundamentally disconnected and practically irrelevant to the public it idealistically serves.

Critique 2013 invites contributions from a broad range of disciplines that are concerned with the creative and professional practice of criticism including, but not limited to; design, the fine arts, architecture, interior design, industrial design, urban planning, craft, media, performance, music, exhibition curation, museology, philosophy, education, journalism, and governance and policy.

The following thematics act as prompts for contributors to Critique 2013 to consider:

Advocacy & Brokerage – the role of the critique of government policy and regulatory authorities by design brokerage organisations.

Journalism – the role of the critique of design in newspapers, magazines and professional journals.

Social Media & online Commentary – the role of critique through social media (Twitter & Facebook) and other forms of online, or technologically-mediated commentary.

Opinion vs Critique – the changing relationship between public opinion and objectively informed critique in creative practice, design education and the public; language, accessibility, gatekeepers to taste, shock jocks.

Illustration – the role of critique through satire, analogy, or metaphor, as a means to comment on design and culture.

Drama & Film – the role of critique in narrative commentaries

Music – the role of music in critically engaging in narrative commentaries about historical and/or contemporary cultural practices.

Reflective Practices – roles and methods of self-evaluation by creative practitioners in creative practice, higher education, and doctoral models.

Design critique in higher education – pedagogies and education practices in engaging peers and students in oral and written critique.

Exhibition Curation as Critique – the methods and role of critique in visual arts exhibition curation.

Post-critical theory – the role of critique in/of creative works that are un-critical.

Judgement – the methods and role of critical judgement in theorists such as Emmanuel Kant, Jacques Derrida, Manfredo Tafuri.

Critique through Creative Speculation – the methods and role of speculative design projects as critical devices to discuss, problematise and theorise upon potential alternative techniques, paths, and/or futures.

Other – anything and everything that considers the nature, effect and affect of critique.

Key dates

28 January 2013 Call for Participation

1 March 2013 Online Abstract submission opens

31 March 2013 Deadline for Abstract submission

30 April 2013 Notification of acceptance of Abstracts

31 July 2013 Deadline for Full Paper submission

1 October 2013 Notification of acceptance of Full Paper

1 November 2013 Deadline for Revised Paper submission

26/27/28/29 November 2013 Critique 2013 International Research Conference

Full Paper Submissions

Authors wishing to submit approved full papers should do so by logging into the OCPMS conference management system. In the navigation menu on the left-hand-side, you will see a tab labeled Upload Documents. Select this tab and then follow the instructions to upload your paper and any accompanying illustrations. Please note that there is a size limit of 10Mb per uploaded file.


For all other information please contact the conference conveners

Dr. Chris Brisbin  &  Dr. Myra Thiessen:

e:  info@critique2013.com

An international conference reflecting on creative practice in art, architecture, and design

The University of South Australia


Call for Papers


Abstract Submissions