Constellation PDP: Critique

Constellation has been such a rich and dynamic experience this year. Pushing and developing the boundaries of level 4 by thinking and critically evaluating some of the ideas that we debated previously. Not being very confident with my writing, it definitely developed my interest by exploring creative opportunities within Ceramics that were supported by historical and theoretical ideas and arguments. Having to begin thinking about our research interest for a dissertation proposal this year was no easy feat but having the range of study groups at the beginning of this year to pick from has been essential to personalise my path to where I am now and relating it to the ideas of where I want to take my dissertation to and sometimes this can be difficult, however, it is better than it being dictated to us.

I was very much interested in Dr. Ashley Morgan’s approach to apply theories to object and the study group Stuff: Objects and Materiality would offer me exactly that. The aims of this study group was to examine our relationship with objects that we come across in everyday life, and also to demonstrate ways for us to think about the objects that we make. We are surrounded by objects, and much of what we are doing here is to conceive art and design objects, things and stuff.

Taking one of our lectures as an example, looking at consumerism and ways we consume, from mass production and consumption to local production and consumption, it’s key to study the historical context of the 19th century shift from production to consumption which is backed up with theories around consumer culture. With the 20th century, a shift from mass production to mass consumption occurred. Featherstone (2007) goes to argue that consumerism is embedded as a culture in a range of way, such as, consumer goods create social bonds or distinctions between people and that the expansion of production meant accumulation of material culture in form of consumer goods.

Independent study is crucial, and it important to identify relevant and challenging contexts within which to situate specific areas of interest within my subject. For example, by looking at the 19th century industrial movement covered by the study group, I was very much interested in the arts and crafts movement. It initiated in Britain and prospered in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910, later rising in Japan in the 1920s, It stimulated economic and social expansion and was fundamentally anti-industrial. With the materialization and rise of the arts and crafts movement and very much anti-industrialist inspired, studio pottery movement is born in the early 20th century with additional influences such as the Martin Brothers, William Moorcroft and the Bauhaus. By critically applying historical and contemporary theoretical concepts and debates to material previously studied, new ideas begin to emerge. Usually tutors give us essential reading material but our knowledge is increased by looking at other sources and connection between a range of cross-disciplinary ideas are made making our academic work more structurally stable. This development creates a personal position from which how to approach a particular research interest leading to my dissertation.

Particular theories have influenced the way I make and see work. Looking at theories of Taste and Cool, arguably, museums and art galleries serve to demonstrate and educate about taste, demonstrating what is good and bad in art and objects, however, ‘Cool is not inherent in objects but in people, then what is seen as Cool will change from place to place, from time to time and from generation to generation’ (Pountain, 2000: 20). These values comfort me and how I see my own practice, and this has led me to think of how I can envision my own practice as a craft within the fine art spectrum which has made me to think about my research for my dissertation intertwining key aspects from Subject, Field and Constellation.

Conclusively, Constellation and its concept this year has been essential for my development as an academic writer towards my dissertation. However, although a fairly positive experience I feel that the choice of dissertations including business plan and technical report could perhaps be introduced to us much earlier in the year, even possibly at level 4 for students to have a better understanding on how to research towards these two types in particular. Apart from that, I really found Constellation essential on ways I view works, objects and stuff but most importantly how I produce work as an artist and maker. It has been a great tool to explain and articulate my work by applying theories and debates around the themes I’m looking at. This module has impacted in great depth my own personal practice in the ways I begin to research, and now is very clear the importance of reflection on my writing and going into deeper analysis and its development of my own ideas and crucially the impact of the in-depth reading and how theories and philosophy are a major part of my practice.