During the course of my study in Constellation my understanding of the wider implications of my practice and the interconnected nature of all the topics I have covered. I have learned about the context in which views and attitudes change, allowing me to approach work from a more educated position. When I first understood that I would be learning what I saw as unrelated work as part of my studies I wasn’t overly keen. But it has taught me a lot. If nothing else, simply a uniform and fundamentally sound methodology for research and study.
During the course of the academic year I studied two distinct topics. My first course was Sustainable Practices. This was the study of the societal changes and technological advances of the past two centuries that have brought us to where we are today, the negative consequences of the systems that are now in place, and the methods and difficulties with trying to limit and reduce our impact on the world around us through technology and changing perceptions.
I really learned a lot from Sustainable Practices. I am very conscious of the impact my lifestyle may have on the world around me and do make the effort to limit it. And I’m sure everyone understands that we’re living in an unsustainable way. But this codified the issue in my mind. Let me understand each stage at which we dug ourselves a deeper hole from which we now have to emerge. I had understood that many constellation subjects were quite philosophical but this was factual and measurable which appealed to me.
I do think I took a lot on board during this first course, my blogging was reasonably consistent and I made a conscious effort to raise questions and start discussions about various topics raised during class. I don’t recall getting the finest mark on my formative assessment essay, this is simply due to my dislike of essay writing and lack of motivation. Given the opportunity to redo it I think I could improve it significantly.
In my second Constellation course of the year I learned about subcultural trends during the past century, largely from a fashion perspective this was Smells Like Teen Spirit. Learning the motivation behind various aspects of peoples dress. The significance of small details in terms of their perceived meanings and the fluidity of style which is an ever changing amorphous thing which is an expressive, symbolic method for instigating change on a cultural level.
Prior to this course I had never had much interest in fashion, in many ways I still don’t. But the significance of fashion as a tool is something that I had never before understood. Subcultures like goths, chavs and in particular punk had always seemed to be a form of tribalistic identity politics played by attention seeking idiots. I still feel that many of them are. But in particular the punk movements history, origins and accomplishments really surprised me. The liberalising of many Western cultures, Britain’s in particular, is a great feet and something from which I greatly benefit.
I enjoyed the process of analysing images of various people dressed up in strange ways and learning about the significance of small symbols and objects. The colour of clothing, the material, the level of ware, it’s previously held meanings. I do wish I had blogged more effectively about this topic. But it felt like repeating what I already knew for the benefit of others who most likely already knew it so I didn’t do as much as I should have.
My formative essay for Smells Like Teen Spirit was actually a pleasure to write. I found sourcing very difficult as finding the appropriate material to bolster my statements was a nightmare. Overall however, the whole experience was a positive one.
At the beginning of the academic year I really was skeptical of Constellation is general. I thought it would be a distraction from the job of creating pieces of visual work with which to fill my portfolio and I have to admit I was really happy to believe Graphic Communication would be very slim of written essays. However I have come to understand through the course of the year that I need to be aware of the wider picture to be the best designer I can be.