Constellation PDP

Over the course of the year I have been attending our university’s “constellation” sessions, which are lectures exploring the breadth of art and design in culture, philosophy, and many other areas so that we can see our practice in the context of the wider world and the potential influences and references that we can draw on. Overall I think I have found these sessions extremely interesting and engaging, although I did personally find the study skills sessions rather lacking. They have introduced me to artist’s work that I most likely would never have discovered in my own research looking at my own particular interest, but may become relevant to my work in the future.

The lectures I found particularly engaging were those that very theoretical or philosophical heavy, as you really needed to engage with them on a different level in order to follow and process the information, rather than simply looking at a piece of artwork and being able to appreciate it purely on a aesthetic value. Critically analyzing work is something that comes naturally to me, and having lectures that push my level of analysis are very enjoyable.

One area of constellation I have found particularly engaging was the option that I chose, when we were able to specialise in one subject of investigation. My subject was sonic arts, which I chose because it is an area of art I didn’t have much knowledge in but seemed to have a rich history and a wide use of applications, and could perhaps be linked into my work either now or in future. Over the course of our sonic arts lectures I found that I was introduced to many new artists and ideas that I was not previously aware of, one of the most influential being Pierre Schaeffer’s musique concrete. Our lecturer took us on a series of sound walks, where we simply listened to our surroundings with the idea that any noise around us could be perceived as sound. I find myself doing this activity ever more increasingly, and after watching a video on Schaeffer where he mentions the beauty of traffic as it is an ever changing noise that has its own rhythm and melodies that are never repeated I have found listening to the traffic to be very soothing and almost meditative. Other artists that have also had a strong influence on my work are particularly Susan Philipsz with her piece “Lowlands”. We were played this during our lecture as it was the Turner Prize winner of 2011 and in fact the first sonic arts piece to win the award, and was a controversial subject as to whether or not it was classed as art and worthy of the award. Personally, I found the piece to be captivating, and the distortion of the human voice is something that greatly influenced my Field group project, looking at the idea of the distortion of human generated noise.

My main issue with constellation, as a previously mentioned was the study skills. I feel like they gave me very little information, focusing on the most basic reading/writing/analysis skills and being only several hours on each topic once a week I didn’t come away with anything of value from them. Considering that we are tasked with writing a 2,500 word essay which we are graded on, and expected to employ a reasonably high level of analysis, critical writing with the use of referencing, I don’t think that any of the sessions we did equipped us with the level of skill needed for the essay. While I understand that they have to attend to people of a mixed skill level, it would have been useful for them to perhaps offer a more advanced level of sessions to follow on from the initial ones. I think it would have been useful for us to have been set a series of smaller essays or writing tasks throughout the year, perhaps 1,000-2,000 words which would have then been graded critically in the same manner of our essays and given feedback as to where we can improve. I personally with our sonic arts option have been set no writing tasks, and those groups that have seem to have no feedback aside from “you’re on the right track”, which isn’t particularly constructive. The only writing task I believe that I had been set during the study skills was to write an argument on a subject, but as a group. While the feedback was critical and constructive, writing as a group is vastly different to writing as an individual and so doesn’t necessarily help when writing an essay.


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