Personally, I really enjoyed both of my constellation subjects. I very much enjoy learning new things so I was anticipating each session. While others may have been resistant to to attending these lectures/seminars, I looked forward to going to them because for one, I know the information might well be useful in the long run, and two, I ended up with both of my preferred topics. I think receiving the subjects which I asked for helped my motivation to attend immensely.
The first subject which I had was The Body and Society. This seminar taught me a lot about the history of how the human body has been viewed in society throughout the years, and social theories, but I think the lesson which impacted me the most was learning about how design should be easy for people to use. I think about it a lot now in my daily life, and I endeavour to use these teachings in my own work especially if it is something to be handled or touched. I want to play on how people perceive things to be used, perhaps making something that is easy, and with an obvious way to use, or maybe something that doesn’t work the way most people expect it to. Furthermore, I really enjoyed learning about how the boundaries of what defines the human body is always being pushed- for example through design and use of prosthetic limbs, and even some more shocking examples like a man who illegally hooked his brain up to a camera which allowed him to see colours that the human eye can’t perceive.
This study group also went through how to reference and how to do academic reading better than before- while I still will likely need to look up how to reference certain things, it is easier now than before for me to find useful things in the library. I know to look for things that relate specifically to my work, and not to bother reading things that I am sure will not be useful to me. My essay for this term, was on the subject of Androgyny which I think in retrospect was too vague, as there was little recent academic study surrounding it. I struggled to find relevant information. For future reference, I will try to pick something that I feel strongly about, and know there will be plenty of reference points.
My second study group was Smells Like Teen Spirit. Attending this study group helped me to look more closely at the things I take for granted, and now I find myself analysing the things people are wearing fairly frequently, and also recognising how symbolism is used in various artworks. Subconsciously, everyone makes assumptions based on the way things look, and as a maker I am aware that I need to play on these unspoken rules if I am to convey a particular meaning in my work. I really enjoyed analysing different case studies, and found the ‘three columns’ method of doing so to be incredibly useful. I will certainly continue to use this in the future.
Before this seminar, I was under the impression that using things that have already been used was a bad choice, but after several case studies, I know that drawing on tradition and cultural knowledge is in fact essential to make something. Even more importantly, breaking tradition is something I need to aim for in my work, to be original. I just need to know what the rules are before I can break them. And this is where academic research is important. For my essay this term I chose to research Japanese subcultural fashion, as it is something I’ve had an interest in for a long while. This seminar gave me an opportunity to look more deeply into the origins and culture surrounding the fashion choices, and I learned a lot more than I expected to about kimono.
Within the seminars, I got the chance to talk more with students from other disciplines, but the topics we were covering didn’t bear much relation on our practice directly. Nonetheless it was a good experience to engage in discussions with other people, and see other points of view, particularly in more controversial topics such as heteronormativity and gender binary issues in my first seminar. It was interesting to see how straight people still think of homosexuality and gender binary in terms of ‘you either are or you aren’t’. This kind of discussion was more prevalent in my first term, with the body in society group, and I think that it is partly down to the layout of the room. Sitting at desks and having no choice but to face other students lends more to confidence and incites more discussion. On the other hand, my smells like teen spirit seminar was in a lecture theatre, and while that made it easier to see the presentation on the screen, it also detracted from the level of discussion.
Both of my tutors for these sessions have been incredibly helpful when it comes to writing my essay, though both in different ways. I think their teaching styles matched well with my learning style, so I was fortunate in that respect.