Often I receive emails or messages berating or questioning my editorial integrity about controversial projects or topics. The narrative of the email or message is something along the line of why aren’t you criticising “insert project name or person” or why aren’t you writing an editorial about “insert topic”? I don’t feel compelled to write critical commentary because the world is full of critical analysis and opinion through social media and specific blogs. I feel that adding to the noise of critical commentary is not warranted. If I can’t add to the conversation without providing a solution or alternative narrative, I waste my time and my reader’s time.
Over the past decade, there has been an increasing amount of unsubstantiated commentary or critique of projects, whilst at the same time, qualified opinion and expertise have decreased. The reason for the decrease in qualified opinion is that the price or fees paid for the opinion have reached a low point where writers and critics can no longer make a living from providing a written opinion; Whilst unpaid unqualified opinion has exploded across the internet with media outlets not having to pay for engagement or opinion.
In terms of projects, I am happy to report on concepts or built projects and allow the reader to determine their view of whether the project is good or bad in their opinion. I feel that this impartiality is critical to providing a platform for different projects and where or whom they were designed by or funded by should not determine whether it is publicised. The world is constantly evolving and changing, and critiquing is often a privilege that is often undervalued. When critiquing a project or person, it is often at face value and lacks understanding of context. I may change my mind in future and start to critique projects. However, it would require a commitment of time to understand the context of the project.
I do, at times, write opinion pieces about topics, but I have the objective of educating people and providing various solutions. These solutions may work in one country but are inappropriate in another due to access to tools or government regulation.
All too often, a critique is often through the lens of a few photographs, plans and hearsay or anecdotal experiences from a select few. When writing a critique, you must be impartial and block your biases around the designer (fame or edginess), place, client etc., to effectively undertake a critique. Only if you are willing to do this or declare your biases within the critique.