PDP:Dissertation Submission // Level 6 (word count: 1012)

This module of contribution/constellation in the second year has been one of the most intense modules throughout my university experience so far, it has been around 3 to 4 years cine the last time I have had to write an essay to anywhere near this calibre let alone 10,000 words. For me, the most significant element of this process has been learning to trust my own judgement with topic choices, and recognise that as long as I approach a subject academically and objectively it can be applicable to a dissertation paper.

For much of the summer holiday, I unintentionally observed parents and their children and realised that my dissertation topic of children and technology and its effects are a pressing matter within our own society which is only growing more intensely. Having discussed matters of psychological well-being, mental health and physical health it became evident that perhaps this issue needs to be contemplated studying society as a whole not just individually.

As an illustrator, I need to be able to fully understand pieces of texts and language before I fully react and create imagery in response to them, the process of having to fully read and analyse texts in order to be able to respond to them properly within my essay has forced me to develop these skills of deeper reading which in turn has become obvious in my creative practice.  I have realised that creative inspiration doesn’t necessarily have to come from visual images but instead can come from academic and formal writings because it is not the imagery that fuels creativity but the ideas that are presented and conceived. I have learnt how to apply theories and perspective to my own topic and subject which might not have been written about it but the ideas behind them are still incredibly relevant to it and can be applied.

For the past year, I have been lucky enough to work with Sarah Smith as my constellation tutor,  she has always fully understood what I have set out to achieve with my writing and has always given me incredibly useful resources to look at and respond to in order to further my writing, one of her lectures in my first year second term of constellation was actually what inspired me to choose my given topic since I found the way she presented it so engaging especially when presented with writings such as Ingold who wasn’t directly writing about the topic at hand but we became able to apply it to different subjects because of the way it was explained. I think that this has really encouraged me to continue writing about a topic that really interests me and I think is incredibly pressing in modern day society and is growing ever more so.

I found the format of handing in a proposal of our dissertation  during the second year incredibly useful since it gave me the chance to fully discuss and consider my dissertation topic, structure and its contents before I began to even think about starting to write the essay itself, at the time I think I underestimated the true amount of research that this dissertation would actually require.

Having completed this dissertation I have found I struggled with keeping track of what I had and had not written when it came to the different chapters and references, in retrospect I think that if I had kept a better record of my work through my PDP blog I would not have struggled with this so much, I also would have kept better record of my tutorials and meetings with Sarah Smith since often I took notes in various different notebooks and sketchbooks and often found myself losing my notes from the sessions which then lead to a brieakdown in communication between what I was discussing with Sarah Smith and what I was actually commiting to in my research. I found myself struggling with the analytical side of the writing process as this is something I have always not fully understood throughout my education, I think that at points during the essay I have achieved a good standard of analysing but this is always something that could be worked on from my own perspective.

I think perhaps if I were to repeat the experience I would make sure I had a full backlog of research, references and quotes I could refer to as I was writing instead of having to still have to do some sort of research whilst I was writing the essay during this year and term. Time management is something I have always struggled with throughout all of my studies especially when it comes to writing academically, I found that if I gave myself regular milestones to achieve within certain days I felt a lot more compelled to write and see the word count go up, this also allowed me to balance my practical work as well since I gave myself allotted amounts of time to contribute to each module during a week.

Most importantly I have learnt not to become lazy within my own hours I have set myself to work within a day, I often found myself hitting the word count that I wanted for a day and then stopping and in retrospect this was not the most benifcial attitiude towards, whereas if I had continued to excell the amount I had set myself for a single day I would not have been so stressed to hit the word count right up until the end of the deadline and would have given myself more time to edit and make sure I was a hundred percent happy with what I had written instead of feeling rushed whilst editing the writing.

I am glad that I can say that I have initiated and completed my own dissertation for this degree as I recognise that the ability to produce an amount of text to this volume is not accessible to everyone in society and for that, I feel incredibly privileged to have been in the position to have been able to complete this dissertation.


Constellation Reflective Text

During this year’s constellation sessions, I was in the group ‘Transdiciplinatry and the experimenters’, despite this not being my initial choice for the term I was excited to explore the learning processes of experimentation at a higher level. The lecture I found most relevant to my own practice was the learning about the black mountain and the experimenters. As a collective of experimental creatives, I wanted to explore how I could apply this to my own practice. The notion of transdisciplinary is something I have always tried to apply to my own practice in order not to limit myself to certain mediums and processes. Many of the theories and perspectives we were presented with were extremely theoretical and quite hard to understand let alone to apply to my own practice.

Learning through powerpoints and reading bulk texts is a learning style I am familiar with from GCSE and A-level practices, however, this became something I struggled with in this constellation module because I did not understand a lot of the theories and perspectives behind the texts that we were presented with, I would have found it a lot easier if it had been in a different format to understand this information. I and many around me struggled to understand the complex information through powerpoint and text alone, I think that this study group would have definitely benefited with more discussion within the lecturer instead of a simple powerpoint and then attempting to read a complex text.

A bulk of the study group was very complex language and I often found myself having to look up words online to gain a greater understanding to be able to put them into the context of what we were given. I would have benefited from these perspectives and theories being explained to us in a plainer English and then explore the texts of more complex language and then being able to apply it to our own practice.  I tried to engage with the information provided to us and respond to the lecturer although I found that often it was met with confusion and misunderstanding of my struggle. I attended all five out of five lectures and have found that my understanding of these topics did not increase and due to the complex language much of it has not remained in my memory.

After this module finished I was assigned to my dissertation tutor, my dissertation proposal is incredibly relevant to my tutor and I believe that this connection has enabled me to gain more research options and inputs since my topics is a very contemporary issue and after discussions with her I have been able to gain different perspectives in order to give my essay more complex ideas and approaches. I found that my learning experience when I have a  connection with a lecturer or tutor I am able to gain more productive conversations and workflow input.

I believe that my ability to research and find more relevant resources has improved within a short space of time because I have been allowed to explore a subject which I find interesting. This has given me more confidence to approach academic texts, due to a more contemporary understanding of language and presenting within resources. This greater understanding of my learning process has definitely also given me more confidence to approach academic texts and exploring different perspectives and theories. For example, I have begun looking at different types of psychology especially within childhood, being given the confidence to explore different perspectives. My dissertation subject, The effects of interaction with technology on children and how modern day creatives can approach it, is something I believe is very relevant to modern times and after conversations with my dissertation tutor is something applicable to many different generations with different variations.

In conclusion, I feel that the first section of constellation this year, ‘Transdisciplinary and the Experimenters’ with Rita Cachao in five, five-hour sessions was unproductive since I don’t think I have taken anything away due to lack of understanding and lack of communication with the lecturer. This has been my first bad experience that has affected my learning experience within the university as it was such a contrast to my experience of constellation within my first year. However, I believe that being able to research and develop my perspective on my dissertation proposal and the eventual dissertation has given me the confidence to interact with academic texts and learning again.

Pecha Kucha Reflection

My Pecha Kucha

During my Pecha Kucha I discussed the new mediums that I have discovered during my two field experiences, such as Premiere Pro during Circle Line Documentary and using clay and Clay and Cardboard, since these are ways I am interested in working in in the future during my subject modules. I think that these new found mediums have really given me work another perspective.

During my Pecha Kucha I spoke about how  I struggled with the first term of field due to a lack of understanding of the given project, as did much of my peers but I think this made our outcome a lot more raw since it was pure reactive energy instead of trying to tick boxes in the module descriptor.

The second term of field was a lot easier to interpret, along with the added research trip to Berlin which I found incredibly inspiring for contemporary illustration and graphic design. This research trip really encouraged me to explore more abstract contemporary illustration with brighter colours and free-er worker.

Both of the field modules really encouraged me to just work without thinking too much about what I producing. I think that this has really inspired me to be more pro-active about my work and to just create which has made me create more for less fear of disatisfaction.

My first term constellation and my dissertation are fairly well linked, in my essay last term I explored the notion of transdisciplinary and exploration within creative education since I believe this is something greatly discouraged.

I explained that my dissertation will be focusing on exploring the relationship between young children and their interaction with technology, and how as an illustrator I can consider that for example do children’s book illustrators need to start thinking about leaning towards exploring childrens applications on devices due to a disappearing market.

Constellation Reflective Text

The journey of constellation has been an ambitious one. I took part in the study groups ‘Visual Thinking’ and ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’, both of these study groups have made me realise that there illustration can have much more impact than I first thought. When I first started illustration at university I thought that it was limited to book illustrations and occasional branding, but since attending constellation and university I have realised it can be a lot more broad than that.  I have discovered an entire world of abstract illustration, through regular tutorials and lectures. I have grown in confidence to use colour and explore with composition more instead of feeling constrained to black and white and un-experimental imagery. Tutors have shown me that illustration can be used to explain many things, the projects we have been set have deeper thinking and not conventional  perspectives and I believe that constellation sessions have helped me to explore these.

The majority of term two was based around the idea of future generations and the constellation study group Creativity and Cognitive development really helped me explore this topic. I decided to take the angle of encouraging children to spend less time inside on screens and exploring more. Creativity and cognitive development had a lecture about Ingold and his agency theory and how important it is to leave classrooms and experiment without constraints. I have enjoyed exploring this topic within my practice since I believe it has encouraged me to experiment with more traditional medias and more away from digital imagery. I have also collaborated with a friend from fine art to create large scale pieces with spray paint, through this collaboration I have also learnt that the same  work can be different things to different people, for example he was creating the work for the project ‘Inside Outside’ but I was creating it to encourage children to think about what else there is in life apart from the screens in front of them. By walking to university and spending an hour on the train I have had a lot more free time than I previously had in education, these times have allowed me to reflect on where I live and my relationship with it and how it influences me within

This year has encouraged me to think about illustration from a more complex perspective and to use it to encourage less screen time I think this is crucial since much of our lives has become digitalised. Next year I would like to expand more on my organisation and keeping track of my work on this blog and attend more workshops in order to expand my use of medias. I would also like to read more sociological perspectives and introduce these into my work, for example after the visual thinking lectures I started to read a lot of the writings by donna haraway a feminist writer. She offered and interesting perspective on the rise of technology and its effect on the role of females in society, she has inspired me to start thinking about creating work aimed at young females encouraging them to not worry so much about the role of social media in their lives. During the year I have also taken part in group projects, I struggled with these parts most due to the fact that often we had to cross collaborate across the school of art and design and struggled to organise meeting up.Next year I would like to focus on trying to have more callobrative projects in order to get more different use of mediums.

Cognitive development – and individual thing? Creativity an individual thing? -Creativity and Cognitive Development – 11/02/2016

In this constellation session we discussed the idea of cognitive development being different for each individual. We were introduced to the belief that development is the result of struggle and learning from mistakes, this concept is one introduced by Piaget’s theory with the example of a small child losing their belonging and them looking for it in the last place they lost it because that is where they found it last time they lost it.

We were also shown a collection of photos which were from a competition run by IKEA who turned 10 children’s drawings into plush toys. The toys were very obviously made from children’s drawings since the proportions etc were not true to life however this is what made the toys so endearing, however in the descriptions of the toys the children gave incredibly valid explanations for the toys’ appearances. For example one of the toys had extremely oversized ears which was due to the fact it made the toy better for whispering secrets to that no one else would be able to hear. These inventive reasonings were a brilliant example that children are not necessarily less intelligent than adults but that they just think differently to them and their perspective of the world develops as their cognitive skills do.

The idea that each individual develops differently is one that I should definitely be considering in my own work practice especially if I were trying to create work which is appealing to children. It’s important to not patronise them and remember that we were all once that age and that although we all live in the same world our experiences have all been different so we all react to things differently. This in turn means that our work will have different meanings to everyone who views it even if they’re not the meanings the work had to us as the creator.


Agency – Creativity and Cognitive Development – 28/01/2016

In the first constellation session for ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’ we were introduced to the idea of ‘hylomorphism’ and how physical objects are composed of matter and form as a result of the relationship between a creator and their material. This is a theological theory from the 19th century that was influenced by the Greek idea that we as humans are second only to God and we control nearly everything we come into contact with. We were then introduced to the idea of ‘agency’ and that there are other aspects that can affect our outcomes in creating. We were given a piece of text written by Ingold that explained this to us using the example of students on a beach creating woven willow baskets and how their outcomes were affected by the elements as well as their own skills. This was a perspective I could relate to in my own practice as an illustrator since I use tools which can run out or break. For example I could be using an ink pen one day and it could be working the exact way I want it to but the day after I could return to the pen and it could have run out of ink and due to the nature of the pen I’m unable to refill it and therefore my work and outcome has been interrupted and affected. I’m still able to use the pen but the fact it has run out of ink is out of my control. I personally see the idea of agency as a triangle consisting of ‘Material’ , ‘People/Creator’ and ‘Environment’, I can relate this to my own experiences as the idea of environment being all the factors that I can’t control myself for example someone leaving the window open in the university student and the wind coming through and blowing paper over wet ink on a page.

The text by Ingold also reinforced the idea that the process of creating something is more informative and helpful that being told how to create something, for example being told how to draw something won’t really help you unless you actually go exert it and draw for yourself and experience what can go wrong in creating.

Constellation 22/10 – Why are we here? What is concept?

Today was the first constellation lecture in ‘Visual thinking’, we were introduced to the idea of philosophy and questioning art we see.

We studied two ‘portraits’ side by side, one was a DNA sequence the other a photograph of the actress Kiera Knightly. We were asked to discuss which we thought was the ‘truer’ portrait. Many people felt that the DNA sequence was the truer picture since the photograph was liable to things like editing and make-up to change the subjects appearance, I however felt that they were somewhat equal since to the naked eye we’re not able to recognise the face within the DNA sequence but we’re able to recognise the face/character within the photograph which I feel counteracts the potential for editing etc.

I enjoyed this session because it has shown me that there are different ways of thinking about an idea and how it can be reflected within different images.