L5 Constellation

I think this second year of Constellation has gone a lot better than my first.

It started off, at the beginning of the year, with us being given our options for that term’s lectures. The options were:

  • Theory as Object: Explorations of Methodological Practices in Art and Design – Dr Rita Cachao
  • Puzzling out Contemporary Art – Dr Jon Clarkson
  • Goddesses and Monsters: Glamour and the Grotesque in Visual Culture – Cath Davies
  • The Many Guises of The Absurd – Jayne Hall Cunnick
  • Art/Science – Dr Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos
  • Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society – Dr Ashley Morgan
  • Mannerism and its Contemporary Implications – Dr Mahnaz Shah
  • Archaeologies of Seeing and Knowing: Non-linear Histories of Practice – Dr. Martyn Woodward

Now, this will probably sound a little strange and sound as if I’ve made it up, but I haven’t. On my way into Uni, a couple of days before the options lecture, I was sat on the bus by myself and I couldn’t stop thinking about objects. About how we’re completely surrounded and consumed by them and about whether these object had something to say about the person they’re on or carried by. Because, surely, being so surrounded by them, our choices in which clothes we wear, which objects we carry and the things we work with must have something to say about who we are or who we want to be portrayed as? When Ashley got up to talk about her option, Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society, she briefly talked about the same/similar topics, so I felt that I had to choose it.

Over the five sessions/lectures of Stuff, it felt like we covered a lot of stuff. Some of it, like consumerism and different types of value, I didn’t find too interesting, but I thought the fifth session/lecture was really good. In week 5’s lecture, we looked a bit of writing from Daniel Miller, depth ontology and the question “how do things ‘make’ us?”. I found all of this stuff fascinating. As I’ve said, I had thought about how objects represent us, but not that objects could maybe change who we are or dictate what we do. It must have been pretty evident how interested in this I was, due to how active I was in the class wide debate that spawned from these ideas.

At the end of this first term, we had to write a (very) short essay which, I think, had to be about a theory or something we covered in the five weeks. I wrote my essay about the significance of a laptop. I didn’t get a very good response for it, which I wasn’t very surprised about because I really wasn’t happy with it myself. I kept putting off the reading for the essay and just ended up rushing the whole thing, which meant that it wasn’t written well and had very easy references (most of which I think were covered in lectures over the 5 weeks). I’m not very happy with the way I worked and I knew I had to change it before we got to the dissertation proposal.

After the Christmas break, we started having to think about our dissertation proposals. I knew that I still wanted to do something about Daniel Miller’s theory of objects ‘making’ us and depth ontology, but I had no idea about what specifically I wanted to do it about, what I wanted to say on the subject or what my argument is. I had talked to Ashley, previously, about an interest in fashion because, as the objects usually first seen by somebody, clothing clearly has a lot to say about person’s ‘self’ or identity. She told me that, to get a better understanding of what I specifically want to do my dissertation on, I should start reading books. It’s such a simple thing to do, and I really should have done it, but for some reason reason, I didn’t. Well, I didn’t do much. Just like with my short essay, I kept putting off the reading.

It got to just before the easter break before I started doing some reading. Because I didn’t have much time left to do this proposal, it meant that I crammed a lot of reading into a relatively short space of time. I know that I’ve never gotten on well with academic reading because some of the writing can be so hard to understand (and could easily be written in a way which is much easier to understand), but I think that I find it a lot easier now after having to read so much of it (it’s still hard, but it’s not quite as hard as it was). This is definitely what’s made me realise just how stupid putting off the reading is and makes me want to continue reading fairly regularly.

After what felt like a lot of reading and a lot of stress about completing it in time, I finished my dissertation proposal. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve done for it because, although this is the longest piece of writing I’ve ever had to do, I think that it’s actually been one of the easiest to write. Because I’ve chosen something to focus on that I’m actually really interested in, I felt like it was a lot easier to write for and I felt like I wasn’t waffling, trying to fill up the word count.

I’ve enjoyed this year’s constellation a lot more that last year’s, probably because I’ve been learning and reading about a subject that I have a real interest in. That’s not to say that I didn’t find the first year interesting, because I did, I just think that I find what clothing and fashion has to say a lot more interesting than it’s history and the reasons behind certain subcultures starting up. I’m glad I picked what I did for both first and second year because I think they’ve slightly complimented each other, and I think having a slight understanding of fashion has helped me understand theories like depth ontology a lot easier. I also think it’s pretty evident that both have influenced my choice of subject for my dissertation proposal.

Overall, I think it’s been a good year, and I definitely think I’ve improved my reading and writing abilities, I just need to make sure that I don’t get complacent and that I keep reading.


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