Analysis of a cultural object
Objects represent a myriad of images and ideas about the culture that they come from. They embody, by virtue of their structure and their history, an array of information about the culture and the people that created the object. An object of culture might contain information about the technological development of a civilization. It could also embody elements of poetry and art of the people that used it; the spirit of a culture could be present in it. In some of its physical characteristics the object can have information about the philosophy and the political and ideological organization of a culture.
Students are to choose an object. It could be a picture, a painting, a picture of a painting, or an object in a museum. Whatever the case, this object of culture is going to be analyzed through very close and methodical observation of all its elements. First, students are going to establish the parameters of measurement of the object in all possible ways. The observations of the object and the organization of these observations are going to determine the depth of information and knowledge that we could attain of an object. For instance, we are going to record carefully the general characteristics of particular object. What is it? Is it a drawing? Perhaps a painting? Is it a piece of furniture? Then, once this is determined, students are going to talk about the lines of the object--the configuration of lines running horizontally, vertically and in an oblique direction. Once this is determined we are going to talk about two dimensional shapes. Are there any squares, triangles, circles, or any other shape that would gives the ground for finding three dimensional shapes?
This is exactly where we want to go. From two dimensions we go to three dimensions of the object or the image. Students in the process of observation and recording of these observations build a body of information that can be the grounds for further understanding of the object. Other elements are texture, color and the points of articulation of the different parts of the object. The virtue of this type of work is that things that seem to be non-existent in the object surface little by little, creating a basis for further development of information on other levels such as deduction and speculation.
Students take the next step in the path of knowledge of the object by formulating deduction. Students build information on facts and information of the object, and from there they should determine further other levels underlining the main characteristics of it such as use, price, age, ideological implications, power, etc.
Finally, the object that has been scrutinized and analyzed physically and deductively will open itself to further understanding by speculation and the power of the imagination. At this stage of the analysis, students should be allowed to run free with their imagination and creativity.
The natural closing of this exercise can be taken to the realm of investigation and research. Students could actually go to libraries and museums and find out about the history and cultural background of this object. All along this exercise students should write every step of the way. They should also be encouraged to talk about their vision, their findings and their opinions and suggestions on how to make this task better.