My first constellation session was with Dr Martin Woodward, on New materialism. Being unfamiliar with the subject Philosophy, I was apprehensive but also curious to start. In my first session we discussed ‘The meaning of the social and cultural body’. I learnt how the social body is understood though the experiences of day-to-day living, for example, being with your family and friends, going to school, learning about different cultures and rules, therefore the body naturally changes and adapts to society. This is used within my practice everyday when I’m learning new techniques, researching different designers and working with other students. The social body is also used In my practice through the way I think, create and sketch. Whilst some students have done foundation courses and studied Graphic Design before coming to university, I have come from doing Art and Design as an A level, therefore my way of working and thinking might be different to others.

Another session we had that really inspired me was ‘How materials and tools hide from view’. I learnt that tools are moulded in practice, for example if you were playing an instrument it becomes a part of you. The way you play the instrument or hear it is an inseparable part to the act. Most importantly I have learnt that the boundary between the hand and tool vanishes whilst you are using it, an extract from Pallasmaa’s ‘The Working Hand’ explains that, a painter paints by the means of the mind rather than the brush as a physical object. Through out the session, my knowledge and understanding of how the object becomes a part of our body, shaping our creative practice. Drawn lines aren’t only recognised by my memories and experiences, but they also express the memory and expectancy of the materials in use.

This knowledge is essential to me as a learner as I am developing my practice and creative skills. It widens my ability and practice so that I naturally experiment with different ways to create and write. I am not yet confident about how to connect the working hand within my practices. I will need to gain a better understanding of the language of materials, to be able to fully realise how my experiences are expressed and relate to my practice. As a next step, I need to research the works of different artist who specialise in how experiences unconsciously shapes our movement, gestures and practices, for example Paul Klee who said that “Art does not render the visible; but renders visible“.

At the end of these sessions we then had to write an essay , using the information we had acquired over the previous weeks. I decided to discuss ‘Body modification’, and what drives people to do it. I split my essay into four parts and gave myself questions to answer for each section. Even though writing the essay was a challenge I found it to be rather interesting, learing and educating myself about the different subjects in more detail.

My second constellation sessions were with Dr Jonathan Clarkson, ‘After Modernism’. In the first session we discussed a variety of artists, their work and the meaning behind the images and techniques. The first image was of Jackson Pollock’s work, a portrait of V.I, Lenin in a cap, 1980. We were asked what we could see in the image and at first is wasn’t very clear. We were then shown another image of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Llyich Lenin and instantly you could see his face being unravelled from the Pollock painting. The Pollock painting definitely breaks all conventions and rules of the traditional painting. The Pollock painting has the freedom of expression in his paintings compared the Petrov painting which is rather traditional and obeying  the rules of society.

When you put both images together you see that both are forms of propaganda for different countries. The paintings were created in this way so that the difference between American propaganda (Pollock’s painting) and the Russian propaganda (Petrov) was visually obvious.This then links in with Abstract Expressionism where  painters have to show the countries claim to cultural leadership. The artwork is also used as weapon of war, for example spy agencies used artists such as Pollock in the Cold War.

In the following sessions we had brief discussions on Cubism, Minimalism and Surrealism, however I didn’t feel as if I learnt enough about the different movements and their styles, and therefore didn’y enjoy it as much as the first session. What I did enjoy learning about was Fuluxus art. This was something new I hadn’t heard of previously, and was something usually created by musicians, poets and other individuals who didn’t agree with conventional art. It can be created in many different ways, for example, short films with moving images with a distorted and annoying sound effects.

For my constellation essay I have decided to modify “How did the notion of what painting is change during the sixties?”. Instead of discussing how painting changed I am going to discuss how Graphic Design and typography changed in that era. I have started to collect research into what type of things I could discuss within the text. I am also going to use my notes from the ‘Purple Haze –  Channelling Art Nouveau within 60’s Psychedelia’ Keynote session.

Constellation has not only been useful, but it’s inspired me to consider other subjects outside my course. It has helped me within my practice to think about the way I create and to widen my research topics. The sessions have definitely inspired me to think ‘outside the box’ when starting on projects and how my piece of work affects others. I will definitely be applying this to my work in the future. I will explore the many ways of creating and experimenting with different objects/ technology. I find I am now thinking in a different way about my work to before and will definately trying to express my individuality whenever possible.


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