PDP Third Year (Dissertation reflection)

In complete transparency this year has been extremely stressful, with that in mind, combined with the feeling and lack of creativity that comes along with having to create and write insightful well executed and intelligent pieces of work has resulted in quite frankly, the opposite of the desired. It’s also worth mentioning at this point I am Dyslexic, and in my opinion terrible at writing, especially academic writing. While last year deepened my understanding of academic writing, and encouraged me to think more critically, I am still unsure of my writing ability. I have always had issues with my ability to communicate concepts and thoughts that make sense internally but lack clarity when I try and communicate them to others, especially when written.

My approach to work has been slow, working slowly doing a small amount a week, unfortunately this left me with a great deal still to do. The majority of the content has been written in the last two months. Balancing subject, dissertation and working evenings is no easy task, and so in an attempt to reduce stress I took January off work to finish writing. While a large part of the research was already done, I noticed some gaps in my research. I’ve needed to find specific pieces of information such as dates, events, names, (things I didn’t realise were missing until reading my work back) which I’ve found using online sources, including the university online library,

Throughout the year, I’ve had meetings twice a week with my dissertation tutor Ashley Morgan. The meetings have had an indispensable role in my writing process, and a vital point where I could sit back and reflect on my progress with the eye of an experienced but un-biased third party. Without these bi-weekly meetings, I quite seriously doubt I would have anything even remotely coherent to hand in, and so proving essential at getting me to the point where I feel happy handing this document in. In these meetings we’ve not only discussed my progress but more importantly we’ve had discussions about all of these amazingly fascinating women throughout history including, but not limited to; writers, protestors, actresses, Politian’s and academics, along with their academic theories. I always left these meetings knowing with more certainty and focus where I was going with my dissertation. In a wider sense, these discussions were focused around a topic I care deeply about, and so when I left these meetings I would feel more knowledgeable, furthering my resolve that being a feminist is brilliant, brave and necessary.

 

Academically, I think I’ve really come into my stride. I’ve learnt a lot this year; my knowledge of sexism has grown considerably from what I thought I knew before I began researching and writing for my dissertation. I’ve read an array of interesting things, through a range of topics. I have found that the historical events I’ve read accounts of paired with thought provoking academic theories the most compelling reads. As well as my knowledge being greatly widened, I’ve also found that my mind has a more inquisitive nature. My thought processes and ideas have a far wider scope and I make more effort to develop these thoughts so the ideas have more depth and meaning to them.

I have also been thinking in more depth about the audience and artist relationship, and the importance of making your work acceptable and understandable for a wider audience.

As my dissertation isn’t focused on visual imagery, it had little impact on how I approached my subject work visually, however the topic has had an extensive impact in inspiring the topic and subject matter for my subject projects.

It also helped me realise the importance of content, and that I create my best artistic work when it’s a project that is important, when the context of the work is meaningful, well researched and something I’m passionate about. (No matter if an image is visually pleasing or technically accurate, it will mean nothing in the context of illustration or how one values the work without the meaning and passion behind it.) The care I put into these pieces of work really reflects in the quality, and to what extent I measure the work as a success or a failure.

Having done extensive research on topic and focused all my energy on this subject for so long, the impact on my life outside of university is genuinely astonishing to me. I’ve developed a passion and fuel for the topic, it bleeds into most of my conversations at work, in university, and socially, and has become an important part of my life, and personality.

I am left reflecting and analysing everything people say, constantly correcting people when they make ‘microaggressive’ or just blatant sexist comments, whether they are aware that they have made them or not.

A realisation I’ve made is that if people are not made aware of the comments they are making then they will only continue. This reinforces the idea that these acts and remarks are acceptable.

I am the first to admit that constellation and academic writing are not where I excel, I’ve worked really hard over the last two years on improving my academic ability, so that whatever grade I get at the end of this, I know I have done the best I possibly could to get it. This year has been a roller-coaster of emotions and stress. It’s been no short of my idea of hell, however I’m proud, which may seem strange, but no matter how disheartened I became, I carried on and the fact you’re reading this means I’ve done it, and with that I am beyond chuffed.

The last three years have made me a stronger more knowledgeable person, artist and woman, whose fight doesn’t end here.

 

Constellation Reflection PDP

Constellation this year has been extremely helpful and interesting. It’s been eye opening into the way of academic writing, something that had always mystified me before. As well as that, first term really helped me think critically and deeper about this, to question things I wouldn’t have before. Without constellation, I believe I would be struggling to develop into a critical thinker, that questions things, rather than believing things because someone (whether it be an academic theory, or something told to me from a teacher), as before I assumed everything as a certainty, but the fact is that, we as a people, like to have every questioned answered, and so when there is an unknown we work tirelessly to find an answer, but a lot of the time, these answers while assumed correct at the time, are disproved and replaced with another theory.

I was incredibly happy this year to learn there wouldn’t be many(if any) keynote lectures, as while they were interesting, unless they were really captivating and on a subject I could relate or knew something about, I often found hard to follow and impossible to keep up with note taking, so often left these feeling discouraged and frustrated with myself.

The weekly sessions really opened my mind, and were a nice mental break from subject work. I really loved that constellation is made up of students from across the CSAD subjects, as it’s interesting to see how different subjects approach the same thing differently, even speaking in groups in the class, its interesting to listen to two people, from two entirely different fields, discussing and debating a subject, and I believe this really helps the students bond and create a more open-minded attitude through out the subjects.

The way constellation was set out for the year was helpful for development, I felt that the weekly sessions, and the 500 word essay but then a more relaxed schedule the next term, with opportunities to speak to tutors individually was ideal. I know that I personally found my individual tutorials with Ashley helpful and enlightening, and I always felt a little surer about what I was doing with my dissertation proposal after every meeting. I also felt after the first term a lot more confident in my academic writing, after receiving feedback and critique from Ashley on what I needed to work on. It was the ideal practice run for the dissertation proposal, although I feel we should have been encouraged to think about what our dissertation would be about earlier, as I’m an extremely slow reader and would have liked to have read more on my topic.

I chose Ashley as my top option for Constellation, because her keynote was clear and easy to understand, while making me think, which is something as a dyslexic student I find essential to be able to take in and understand the information being presented to me. I remember leaving the lecture hall after being given the presentations from all the tutors, and actually being able to remember Ashley’s’, and how I was thinking about it, hours later at work.

Ashley’s’ sessions, were interesting and really kept my interest through out the sessions, even to the point that I would be leaving the sessions ready to do blog posts about what I’d learnt. I found the subject fascinating, as it was something relatable, and theories I could reflect and analysis in my life outside of university, not just in the context of constellation. As I found the subject so enjoyable, and could understand and follow the way Ashley taught these sessions, I found the essay for that term to be the easiest Id ever written, although after getting feedback from Ashley, I got a reality check to really make sure I understood the things I write about, as when trying to communicate things in written word, I often get them mixed up and confused, even when their clear in my head.

In the second term we concentrated on doing the background reading for our dissertation proposals, and so we only met a few times to review our thoughts on our dissertations to that point. Id decided quite early on that I’d chooses a topic that’s very relevant and topical at the moment, a subject I had first hand experience with and was passionate about (everyday sexism and micro-aggression). The issue I soon found out was that, all the ideas in the world didn’t matter if I had no background understanding on the subject, as Ashley pointed out, I didn’t know enough about who else had written about the subject or much else for that matter. All I really knew was what Id read in books (fictional), what I’d seen in films, and what I’d read in the news.

Between the last three weeks of term (this is when I decided on a topic to focus on) and the end of Easter, I did everything I could think of to find relevant resources, although the books and things I found, tended to be lacking in the kind of information I was interested in, so in the last week of term I had a meeting with the Liberian to help me locate really up-to date journals (print and online) and really relevant books. I found relevant books easily after that, but still struggled with Journals, as they all had a focus, and while only touching of everyday sexism briefly, were for the most part irrelevant and just ended up taking up a lot of my time, reading articles that 90% of I couldn’t even use. This was really dis-heartening and really put a halt on my productiveness, and so between the first three weeks of Easters, I barely wrote 500 words, despite my best efforts and reading all I could. It wasn’t till I came back to Cardiff and met up with my friend that I became inspired again, and that was because, I figured out an angle to focus on in my proposal, something that I’d previously been struggling with.

As soon as I had my angle, the rest of the essay was easy to write, for the majority of the essay was finished after one day of writing, I then spent a few hours the next day referencing, and double and triple checking that, and then another few hours reading it over and over, Id finally finished it by Thursday night.

While constellation is in no way, shape, or form, my strength, I try hard and I work hard, whether the grade I get is good, or bad in the spectrum of all the students, I know I’ve done my best. This year of constellation has been hard work at stages, tiresome, and disheartening, but I know how much, this year of constellation in particular has affected me as a person and as a artist, for the better.

Constellation 30/10/15 Baudrillard’s four-stage historical model within context of an object from our subject area.

I have chosen to use a paintbrush, as I didn’t have many objects to choose from and I thought a paintbrush could be an ideal object in the concept of the Baudrillard’s model. 

 1. ‘The logic of utility, labelled it’s ‘functional logic’ . Also known as the use-value in the Marx’s notion. In the case of a paintbrush, the purpose of it as an object is to do painting.

2.’The logic of the market, labelled it’s ‘exchange value’. Referring to the capacity of the object to measure value. A paintbrush would be around equivalent value to that of a Fine Liner, or a biro.

3. ‘The logic of the gift, labelled it’s ‘symbolic exchange value’. This refers to the value of an object in relation to a subject. The example givin of this stage was a diamond ring is a gift given symbolic if romantic feelings. My paintbrush doesn’t really have this, if the paint brush was given to me as a gift at an important marker in my life, such as going away to university, it could be argued that it’s symbolic of wishing luck or that that person has faith in me.

4. ‘The logic of status, labelled it’s ‘sign value’. “Value here is symbolic and because of this, intrinsically relational. This means that a particular object has value in relation to other objects, which are used as points of comparison.” Examples of this given were a Mercedes might be roughly equivalent in status to a BMW of a similar size and a Rolex watch is likely to be perceived as a higher status than a Seiko. To the best of my understanding, I think this is referring to status value, in which case, my paintbrush is a fairly pricy paintbrush, made for professional use, this indicates it has a greater symbolic status than a cheap paintbrush that comes with a set of children’s paints. 

Constellation 30/10/15 An object that is obviously symbolic of something beyond itself.

The only object that comes to mind of an object that is obviously symbolic of something other than itself is my Leicester’s Tiger’s rugby shirt, as it is more than just a functional shirt.

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In a wider sense it is symbolic of support for the Leicester’s Tigers. It has the Tiger’s colours (although an older version of the Leicester Shirts), and it has the Leicester’s tiger symbol in the top corner, and it is obviously converting support.

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The shirt is also symbolic to me as it was given to me by my brother when he left for university in 2011, it was his for years, and before he had it, it was my Dads, for a long time. It is tatted, old, discoloured and well used, but the symbolic associations make it an shirt that I’ll keep, most likely after it is functional anymore, and also I suppose this makes it a transitional object.

Constellation 16/10/15 Transitional Objects in Adulthood Task.

The aim of the task was to choose on object we had one us or with us that could be a transitional object into Adulthood. Ashley suggested that a transitional object is probably something we always have but don’t consciously acknowledge. Ashley made sure we didn’t choose our phone or water bottle, as although we have these things with us all the time, we’re always aware of where they are, and they are constantly in use.

After a thorough search through all my possessions and everything I was wearing, and although I discovered that I always have on me many different objects that could be argued as transitional objects, I decided among three possibilities. The most personal and obvious choose was a picture I always have with me in my Purse of my Dog Benji taken when I was around 4, when he was still a puppy.

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I chose not to use this, as we were going to be explaining it in front of the entire glass, and I didn’t want to be emotional. My second was my headphones I have had for just under a year, but I take with me everywhere, I use all the time, but I never really notice how much I rely on them until they’re not there.

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While they are 100% a transitional object for me, I chose not to use them as they are useless without my phone, and I wanted to avoid any relation to it. The object I chose, is my watch, which I chose because of all my possessions I have had it the longest and it holds some sentimental significance.

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What is the Object?

The watch i’ve had for 3 years.

How do you use it on everyday basis?

I use to wear it functionally as a watch, as when I got it, I still lived at home in the middle of the country, I used it check the time, as I would often not take my phone with me, as it had next to no use, as there was very rarely a signal where I went. Now that I live in the city, I use my phone to check the time, so it has next to no function, but I still find myself checking it, although I’m not sure how much I actually acknowledge the time.

How conscious of it are you?

I wouldn’t say I’m every conscious of it, I always take it off before I go to bed and put it on after i’ve showered, but it’s more like a habit. I only really notice it when it’s gone.

Has this object been specially designed?

No, I was bought it as a gift by my boyfriend, but although it now looks worn and different, it looks exactly the way it was bought.

Do you use it for it’s designed purpose? i.e. Totem.

I do and I don’t, at home in the country I do all the time. Less so when I’m in the city but I still wear it and glance at the face, however I wear it more now because it is a habit from home that I can keep doing, despite being so far from home.

In what way do you value the object?

It has no money value, the value of it is in it’s connection to home, and the fact I can keep apart of home on me at all times.

If you feel that the object represents you, think about in what way?

The watch it simple and dark, which is my taste, but I feel more than anything, it’s old and worn and shows my love of my home and my family and that I want to stay close to them.

 

PDP Final Review

The Constellation module of my first year at CSAD has been a intellectually challenging but rewarding experience and it’s opened my eyes to different ways of thinking about my own work, my Illustrative work completed within briefs, but it has also challenged me to work on my essay writing skills, something before this year I’d never really attempted. Without constellation, it’s unlikely I would have learned to analyse things in a diverse manner, as I’ve learnt to do for Essays.

The weekly sessions broke up my other work, and helped me to get fresh perspectives on my Illustration work, as all the groups were full of students from all CSAD subjects, and talking to come of these other people, really helped in developing a more diverse look on my work. It was surprising to note the different ways in which people from other disciplines looked at briefs, even though we are all in the art discipline, we all had different approaches, which opened my mind to considering different styles of work in my subject. I most commonly took inspiration from the graphic designers and the fine artists, as the graphic designers had some brilliant ideas about presenting and trying to portray messages, and some of the fine artists really broadened my ideas of mediums.

The way in which constellation is set up, I believe to be extremely helpful for first year student especially, but starting the course with keynote lectures, and sessions, they are helping to broaden the mind-set of the students, who, if they’re like me, were set in the idea, that you have to focus on your subject, and thinking outside it would compromise your work, however I found if anything, it hugely improved my work, while the actual quality of my drawings is pretty much the same, the concepts behind my work has improved since attending keynote lectures, and sessions. Although from time to time, a session or keynote would feel irrelevant to me, even boring, majority of the time, I came out feeling as if I had been taught something helpful and eye-opening.

The first term essay, although small, I found extremely challenging, where as in person, I could talk about the baby-cage essay, having done plenty of research, I was well informed on the subject, and could talk for ages about different aspects, however the way we were asked to make the essay, I was uncomfortable, and had never attempted anything like it before. I was confused as the how I should layout my essay, how I should narrow down the information I knew, into a coherent essay that portrayed the message I wanted it to. I was also confused how to analyse images, and how to properly use academic theory to back up my image analyses. However once completed, I handed it in and was relieved when I got it back, it was a confidence booster, knowing I had a 2500 word essay to complete later in the year. This small essay was good practice for the larger one, and without it, I think it would be extremely likely I would have failed, as I wouldn’t have had much idea how to write an essay of this size.

At the beginning of term two, we were given the option of selecting subjects—each covered briefly in term one, in the form of keynote lectures, with a re-cap at the beginning of the term—and I was lucky enough to get into my first choice of study group- smells like teen spirit, taught by Cath Davies. I chose this as my first option, because I found Cath to be the most engaging of the lecturers, and I found her subject to be the most interesting, as well as the fact, I found her session, and keynote to be extremely helpful in my essay writing.

Cath’s constellation subject, was all about subcultures, so we looked at the history and theory behind a number of different subcultures, such as punk, goth, skinheads, the Ted’s, and a few others, we mainly looked at the subcultural style, and the symbolism behind the objects and fashion, used within the subcultures. We also looked at post-subculture, and the different academic theories that go along with it.

From the beginning of the study sessions, we were told to think about what we would focus on in our essays, and, though Cath suggested we relate it to what we covered in the taught sessions with her, we were given the freedom, to choose our own topic of interest, and to write our own essay title, which made me want to put more effort into finding  something about which I was passionate about, and something that I would personally be able to write 2500 words about, however although throughout the sessions I was writing down brief notes of different subjects that could be potentially interesting essays, and before easter, I had a meeting with Cath, were I read a list of possible essay subjects, of which she said any would be good, as long as I relate them to a case study(i.e. a subculture). I believe I may have made writing the essay harder on myself as I only started reading books about subcultures, a week before I began writing my essay, so my academic insight, was limited to what we had covered in sessions, and the small amount I had read outside of sessions.

After a few personal tutorials with Cath, I decided on the essay title;

What is the relationship between Punk and Goth subcultural style and has it evolved in the 20th century?

In my essay, I used a lot of reference material, over 1000 words, so I believe it would have been helpful for me to have made more of an effort locating more academic references from outside the academic sources provided by Cath. It took me over a week to finish my essay, and I am not particularly pleased with the results, I don’t know reading it back, if I was clear and consise with the information and opinions i was trying to portray, and I feel that this could have let me down when it comes to grading, however I used a lot of quotes and references from academics, and I took a long time ensuring each quote was correctly referenced using the Harvard method, as I was extremely worried I would unintentionally plagiarise, although I was still confused on how to reference indirect quotes correctly, although I tried my best to follow a combination of the given referencing material, and online sources. In the future, I need to make sure I work better with my time management, as majority of my essay was written in the last two days before the deadline, I also need to work on essay planning, as well as clear and concise explanations. Once I’ve received my feedback for my essay, I will know more specifically how to improve for the next essay.

This year of constellation has been extremely helpful to me and I look forward to next year.

12/02/2015- Grimly Fiendish

Todays Constellation session was based around the subculture ‘Goth’, we were mainly looking at the first generation of Goths in the late 70’s early 80’s and what the subculture meant to them, and what it meant in general at that time. We also discussed the fundamentals of what makes a subculture, such as ‘anti-fashion’, ‘statements’, ‘anti-establishment’, ‘anti-highstreat fashion’, and ‘anti-mainstream, which are key words academics use when describing any subculture.

Subcultures are known for having an ‘Us and Them’ mentality, because of the way they make themselves difference from the rest of society, and refuse to conform. Subcultures also have specific ideology and beliefs that they express visually through Hair, Clothes, Objects, Posters, Album Covers, Music, Tattoos, and general ‘Stylistic Pattern’. Subcultures tend to based around generation and desensitisation, how the the statements they’re making are representative of the values of the society in which the subculture evolved in. Is there such a thing as a subculture anymore? Generally fashion in general is a fusion of looks from all different kinds of subcultures, by borrowing signature  features from the different existing subcultures. A brilliant example of this are different modern celebrity styles, such as ‘The Pretty Reckless’ who combines gothic features, such as platform boots, lots of black, and pale skin with dark eye makeup, but she combines this with high end couture, and rocker inspired clothing, such as graphic t-shirts.

How do you spot a subculture in a room? How can you tell the difference between the Punk and the Goth? Can you anymore? When we were analysing the subculture Goth, we talked about in order to determine where your example conforms to a subculture, you have to determine the rules that make the original version of the subculture (i.e. whether the image conforms to the traditional 1980’s view of the goth, or whether they’re a modern interpretation of the goth, which has taken influences from other subcultures).  We then looked at the different elements that made the goth subculture, and you could and couldn’t wear that would make you identifiable as a goth. The original generation of Goths, took their main inspiration from 19th Century Gothic Literacy, architecture and Horror films based on these such as Frankenstein and Dracula. Gothic Literacy made a lot of references to Death and Decay, which the idea to look as if they were the undead. They Drew selectively upon a variety of distinct styles, so gothic dress took huge influence from traditional mourning wear and corsets of the victorians, but with references to the death and decay, through the makeup, jewellery etc. Goths were fairly authentic and historically accurate in their dress, but had made modifications.

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They used the traditional high neckline, bodes, hat, lace dress, floor length, with no skin showing and wearing crucifixes to ward of evil from the mourning look, but then they paired it with the excessive which face of makeup with extremely dark over the top eyes(referencing the undead of the gothic literacy). Other than the traditional, they are selective with colours, and the original goths were also selective with materials, as silk, velvet and lace, were accepted, and the Leather/PVP wear didn’t come in until later generations of Goths.

With the strong connection to death and decay in Goth style, they often tried to reference it where ever it was possible, for example they often used Spiders, and worms in jewellery, and wore lots of clothes that is well worn, old, unravelling, reflecting the bodies process after death, where the body decomposes decays and disintegrates. As I said, there are many new generations of Goths, like most subcultures, and in the case of Goth Style, the Japanese revived it by the fusion with other styles, with various components of each, creating different versions of the Goth, e.g the Gothic Punk(Piercings, Tattoos, Coloured Hair, Combat Trousers, Large Heavy Buckled Boots); Gothic Lolita; Techno Goth (Inspired by the Matrix, Dreads, Corsets, Traditional Goth makeup, Fishnet, Bondage, but much brighter, with lots of colours); Fetish Wear(Inspired by Punk, taking Fetish and Bondage wear to the street, which was hugely controversial); and Stream Punk (Recreating the Victorian Style in the 2000’s).

(Style References; Siouxsie Sioux-80’s Goth Public Figure, wore Studded Belts, Cuffs, Bondage wear, Fishnet body/Leotard ripped. John Richmond. McQueen Fashion) Questions for thought *What aspects of different ‘looks’ resurface beyond the street? -Something created for controversial street style recreated for high street fashion. What have modern designed such as McQueen kept, and what factors have they dropped. *What connotations are reinforced? *What are the implications of this? e.g. Stereotyping/influencing new style. Below are examples of 80’s Goth Fashion;

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Below are two examples of Modern Goth Fashion;

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Personally I believe that defined subcultures are a thing of the past, made as a result of the period in time, and I believe that because fashion wise, most clothing choices are completely accepted in everyday society, so making statements and a movement through your clothing is a hard feat to achieve, and the same goes for Music taste. The only things that resemble subcultures now are based around going against mainstream fashion, but not about making a statement, which the original subcultures of the 70’s/80’s were all about.