DESCRIPTION PAPER: ART INTO TEXT The purpose of this short paper is to hone your abilities in using words to describe and understand the physical qualities of a work of art. By writing about art, you will take on the responsibility of examining it closely, organizing your perceptions and thoughts about it, and conveying in text an organized and clear summary of your visual analysis. First, choose a work to examine. There is no limit to which work you may choose, except that it must date from within our time period (the year 1400 of the common era to the present).
If you have concerns about your choice, consult the professor. Please do not choose a work that has been discussed extensively in class or in the textbook. You may choose a work that you can see first-hand in Hong Kong (at for instance the Hong Kong Museum of Art or the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, or a work of public sculpture). If you opt to do this, please identify where the object resides in your paper. If you desire to choose a work from the West or other places not immediately accessible, please find and utilize many reproductions of it, from as many different angles as possible, and with different levels of detail.
Please attach relevant images to the end of your paper (do not include them in the text). After choosing the work, you will then spend considerable time examining it (no less than 30 minutes is recommended). Then, take notes on what you see. Describe the media, principles of design and visual elements that you find in the work. Think about how line, volume, scale, balance, and/or visual rhythm are used in the work, if appropriate. Pay attention to as much of the surface of the work as you can see.
Do physical features of the work suggest the purpose of its creation, the meaning it is trying to communicate, or its use or original physical context? What can you infer about the culture that made this object from its physical features? Finally, compose a 2 to 4 page (double spaced, with regular fonts and margins) essay summarizing your findings. The bulk of the paper should be a well-organized description and formal analysis. You should organize this part of the paper logically, i. e. there should be an order to your description and analysis.
Then, taking the features and relationships in the work that you find most compelling and important, assess its cultural meaning and/or significance based upon your observations. This should be your conclusion. Do not conduct research for this assignment. The focus here should be on honing your observational skills. You will be graded on clarity of writing and word choice (25%), organization (25%), thoroughness of observation (25%), and the plausibility of your conclusions based on evidence at hand (25%). Paper due in class on Monday, September 24, 2012. Penalties for not following instructions:
Does not meet the page minimum: dropped a letter grade. Fonts and/or margins are oversized in order to meet page minimum: dropped five points. Illustrations are within the text rather than appended to the end: dropped a letter grade. Work chosen has been discussed in book or class extensively: dropped a letter grade. Research has been conducted: dropped two letter grades. Plagiary: automatic zero. Reuse of previously submitted material: automatic zero. Work is not within specified time period: dropped five points. Excessive redundancy/use of “filler”: points subtracted from thoroughness score.
Farris’s rules of good formal nonfiction writing: Avoid use of first and second person pronouns (I, you, we, us). Avoid passive voice. Avoid redundancies, both in word use and content. Be sure of the meaning of a word before making use of it. Simplify phrasing in order to be direct about what you want to convey. Organize your thoughts before starting to write. When not writing dialogue, paragraphs must be at least three sentences long. Sentences in a paragraph should address a single subject. Avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction. Avoid contractions. Omit unnecessary words. Assess evidence, not subjective reaction.