Constellation Level 6 PDP Reflection

At the time of deciding what area of study to research in preparation for my dissertation, I was influenced by the ‘art and the conscious mind’ lectures I was attending and my own practice based research that I was exploring. I began to analyse the relationship between our minds, senses and the world. By connecting my studio based practice with philosophy and science, I developed a better understanding of how I perceive the world and the different ways in which I can present it.
The first artist that triggered my curiosity was Evan Walters after stumbling upon his artwork at Newport Gallery. At first glance it appeared to be a depiction of visual impairment but upon further inspection and later research, I discovered that it was simply a representation of his natural vision. The painting had elements of expressionism and presented a technique with uniform horizontal brush strokes that I had not seen before.
Although I believe that becoming aware of something and acting upon it is a positive change, on occasion I found that certain aspects of my vision were sometimes difficult to be unseen. I became irritated by the features that obstructed my view such as my nose, hair and glasses. However, the best advice that I have been given since the beginning of university is to use any implications to your advantage.
Like Walters, after becoming aware of the implications of my visual field that had gone unnoticed before now, I became obsessed with researching the effects of binocular vision.
By presenting myself with new artistic inquiries and arranging tutorials with tutors I had not previously discussed with, my work developed into a multi disciplinary practice. I experimented with several different mediums such as drawing, painting and photography in an unconventional way. I began incorporating aspects of my natural vision by presenting the curved edge of my visual field, blurred edges mimicking the peripheral area and of course, double images. Each medium presented an issue with depicting my view, with photography I consistently recognised that I was unable to capture the entirety of my visual field, only partially capturing the centre of my view and dismissing information surrounding it. With drawing and painting it was difficult and seemed inevitable that I could not depict a three-dimensional view on a two-dimensional surface. This was when I discovered the Oakes twins, Trevor and Ryan. They had already experienced my struggles and developed their research into creating a concave surface using an apparatus in which they designed and built themselves. Around this time, James Green gave a lecture or two at the university presenting his work that has shown similar methods and styles but instead morphing plywood as the surface for a painting. Several artists including Edvard Munch and David Hockney were mentioned and had sparked interest into researching entoptic imagery and the implications of photography.
After a large amount of research and experimentation of how the functionality behind vision works, I began to compare previous methods concerning pictorial depth cues and monocular perception. I soon found links between each art movement and was fascinated by the developments. I finally came to the conclusion that it is evident that there have been limitations to depicting the natural vision, there are still artists of the twentieth century developing and improving the methods. This developed into structuring part of my dissertation in a time line manner, focusing on significant times in which each artist such as Paul Cezanne, Edvard munch, Evan Walters, David Hockney, Robert Pepperell, James Green and The Oakes Twins developed a new way of depicting a view, each paving the way into a new movement.
Towards the end of my research, I realised that I had spent more time on researching the philosophical and scientific elements of my practice that I neglected the reason why I began to create art in the first place. I’m not overly concerned about representing the world to the most accurate proportions anymore and focusing more on expressing my presence within an artwork. Recently experimenting with sculpture, scanography and video in order to express my experience and frustrations with mental health. Although I have changed my direction of practice into something that is disconnecting from the subject of my dissertation, it is still beneficial to look back on the ways in which our mind, senses and the world are connected. The research gave me a better understanding of perceiving the art world in general and improved my way of presenting my visual experience.
Spending time outside of the studio, whether it be in the library or meeting for tutorials, I now have a greater sense of knowledge from several disciplines I can now apply to my practice and feedback from several sources that will benefit the development of new ideas. I have also found that I am more structured and focused on my work, whereas before I spent little time researching and too much time in the studio, which affected my overall progress up to this point. At first, the thought of writing a dissertation was daunting and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish doing so. If I had not started researching at the end of second year, I would have struggled long and hard to find what I needed in time to start writing confidently. After I began researching I found that it was incredibly interesting and at times I couldn’t put a book down or stop writing. I have improved my academic skills and I am more confident in my capabilities.
Overall, the constellation module this year has benefitted my academic research, writing skills, time management and studio practice. I feel that I am better at explaining my reasoning behind presenting my work in a specific way and can form a structured argument. I have experienced a new level of confidence and motivation to return to the studio and can see new ways in which I can develop on existing ideas that had seemed to run their course and hopefully expand into new ideas.

Theory as Object: Foucault’s Las Meninas,
Archaeology and Genealogy

To begin the lecture we were asked to describe the following image:

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Descriptions are not detached, free from assumptions, beliefs and statements. We all individually perceived the image differently with different narratives and understandings due to past experience and knowledge.

Theory as Object: 
Exploration of the Diagram as Methodological Device

The Culture of Diagram

John Bender and Michael Marrinan (2010)

“A diagram is a proliferation of manifestly selective packets of dissimilar data correlated in an explicitly process-oriented array that has some of the attributes of a representation but is situated in the world like an object” p.7

“…this book sketches from the time of the Encyclopedia a genealogy of visual correlation as a form of knowledge…” p.13

Neither description nor representation it is about creating a system of interconnected knowledges that constitute a whole.

“…ways of formalizing relationships with the world …  they foster many potential point of view, from several different angles, with a mixed sense of scale that implies nearness alongside distance” p.14

It is not just about bringing in multiple things to present something, but is a way of giving agency to the viewer. The viewer, or user, is implicated, it can no longer be passive, as it is up to him to construct the totality of the knowledge. Thus each ‘reading’ of a diagram constitutes a different whole, a different knowledge.

I was interesting to discuss how famous works of art could be seen as diagrams due to being presented with an artist’s knowledge and intentions at that time or place. Although, many argued that if it wasn’t intended to be a diagram then it isn’t one.

Create 3 possible arguments that justify understanding the image your group has selected as a diagram:

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  1. It is showing multiple gestures of movement informing us of the step by step motions of walking.
  2. It indicates a male figure by using harsh lines as smooth lines are typically associated with the female figure.
  3. Due to prior experiences and knowledge, you will perceive a diagram in anything if you’re looking for one…


Theory as Object: Explorations of Methodological Practices in Art and Design

The objectives of the study group:

  • To understand what theory is
  • To know how to identify, interrogate and use theories
  • To be able to work though theories and to combine them into a theoretical framework
  • To know how to make the practice of theory interact with your own practices
  • Not about applying theories, instead it is about how to practice theory

What is theory?

Oxford Dictionary:

  1. “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained: Darwin’s theory of evolution”
  2. “A set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based: a theory of education”
  3. “An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action: my theory would be that the place has been seriously mismanaged”

What about theory in the context of arts?

Nicholas Davey – Art and Theory

There is no opposition between practice and theory, but a relationship that is mediated by the subject matter of the work of art.

“Unlike the modern conception of theory which stresses the detached observation of a phenomenal event, the ancient notion of theoria emphasizes the act of witness which … contributes toward the emergence of the event participated in” (p.20)

The reading material entitled Regions, Networks and Fluids: Anaemia and Social Topology  (Annemarie Mol and John Law (1994) Social Studies of Science). The topic of Anaemia seemed irrelevant to the visual arts… After reading however, I realised that the purpose was to use blood as an analogy to explain how some things aren’t easily explained through traditional methods. Theory is within everything we create as blood is everywhere within us.

Expressing the Unseen: Artist/Designer Brief Swap

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Our group decided to solve the problem of how inconvenient the doors and key card system is at the university. The amount of times we have tried to get in and out of the studio with our hands full, covered in paint or forgetting to sign in every morning and then again if we want to stay late in the night has been proven inconvenient.

So, we decided to design a key chain that today’s technology could provide. It has a sensitive sensor that opens automatic doors without having to get it our of your pocket. It will sign you in and out as you enter and leave the studio. It has a tracking device that links to an app on your smart phone if you ever lose it. And finally, is programmed to recognise when you have a lecture and beeps/vibrates to remind you. I think the difference between us and the designers is that they probably would have put more thought into designing it, what materials would be beneficial and how it would actually function. Whereas we were going crazy thinking about the endless possibility of things it could do and if we had more time, play with different kinds of materials and colours that would probably make it look different to our original design.

Come to think of it, this device is quite scary. I’ve only recently opened up to technology because i’m scared of becoming too reliant on it.

Expressing the Unseen: Deep Histories of the Body

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I found that the second example ‘the binding of the feet’ reminded me of a problem of my own, when i was younger i was very reluctant on exchanging my shoes for new ones when i had a perfectly fine, worn down pair of shoes. This resulted in my toes being cramped within my shoes and growing diagonally with what is known as ‘bunions.’ They are usually only common in adults wearing impractical high healed shoes too often. That brings up a whole different story of how different styles of shoes are defeating the original purpose of them. Anyway, i now find it impossible to find a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, I have no choice but to wear tight fitted shoes and have no control over preventing them from getting worse until i’m brave enough to have surgery. I’ll probably consider it when i can no longer walk because i obviously have a perfectly fine, worn down pair of feet. Have i learned nothing?