Constellation PDP

[This PDP is filed under both Subject and Constellation]

The core of my blog centres around my Subject work, and my SWOT analysis of the Field module covers my views regarding that, whereas with this PDP it’s about the entire module: this term’s and last term’s constellation work, the essays I wrote in response to them, and how it affected my course/subject work overall.

This was my first choice of second-to-third term module, and I was particularly keen to learn under Martyn’s guidance: when the Constellation subject fair was first held, Martyn wasn’t able to attend, but I was still interested in his desk space – his copy of Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art” had caught my eye.  I had read it approximately a year ago and had greatly enjoyed the author’s approach to history and narration.  I was certain that anyone who had read that book and presented it with pride would be a person worth speaking with and learning from.  I read the rest of the module synopsis and decided it would be well worth my time.  It did not disappoint.

Regarding the Whole:

Thoroughly enjoyable lectures this last term (and the previous) made Constellation engaging; they helped students to ask each other questions: about themselves, each other, the subject itself, and the wider world.  With Martyn, we considered Embodied experience and knowledge first-hand, and talked about the way in which objects are invariably interlinked with the context through which they came to be.  We spoke about Phenomenology and Ocularcentrism, and debated about the ways in which modern art throughout the last two centuries has been affected by the latter movement, however subversive, or on how subconscious a level it applied.  As before, it was refreshing to be able to have a more expanded group of peers, who spanned across the various departments within the Art School: I made a handful of friends outside of my course whom I might not have met otherwise, and this was enormously part of my enjoyment of the module itself.  In the first term, Mahnaz invited us to focus on the complexities and intricacies which surround the different layers of our social understanding of space, and the dimensions we inhabit.  It was also inspiring to be off-campus at the Cardiff Museum, where some of her lectures were held.

Essays, and how Constellation affected my Subject work

For Mahnaz’s essay, I chose to write my research essay on the fourth dimension, most specifically on to the investigation of what I called the “four-dimensional object.”  This was namely a creation which, through its being handled and experienced, would allow the holder to gain (hopefully) [some] understanding of how the item was made and by which processes.  I integrated my own ceramic work into the body of the essay, which through my research and writing of it, had already begun to inform and inspire my practice.  It challenged my preconceptions of what objects should, could, or would become.  I felt that as a learning experience, it was invaluable to my practice on a larger scale.


With Martyn’s essay this term, I chose to further explore Ocularcentrism and perception through embodied knowledge, writing about sensory perception through my focusing the lens on the Victorian Occult.  My essay built on, and helped me examine the embodied knowledge I had accrued through my own hands-on physical practice in the studio.  It also allowed me to address Ocularcentrism indirectly …how it changed the way people interacted with their peers and the objects around them; it greatly impacted not only schools of thought, but also art and literature from the age of Enlightenment up until what I would argue is its peak throughout the 1900s.  Embodied knowledge and experience are important to me as a craftsperson and ceramist, because they help us to describe (part of) the process by which an object is made.

This term in my subject work, I have focused on the ways in which surface, form, and texture impact on how I multi-sensorially experience an object.  My primary focus in my work has been on touch, and thus being able to do in-depth reading around the Victorian Occult, and especially concerning all senses but sight, enabled me to use my own experiences of art in a way I had not previously considered possible.  I also learned that the study of the Victorian Occult has, over the last few years, become a topic which is no longer deemed fanciful, but rather an extraordinarily rich ground for deeper inspection of the human psyche.  I am more than glad to add my voice to those of others with a similar fascination to my own.

As an overall experience, Constellation has many merits as a key part of my degree in Ceramics here at CSAD: while Subject affords me full focus on my subject work, and Field aids a student’s exploration of their work within a wider point of view (…working with others in unprecedented ways and learning people skills), Constellation plays its part in reminding students to always be questioning the world, opinions, and objects around them.  It comes down to enabling the discussion of a handful of the most pertinent questions we can ask: those same I called off as a child, learning Rudyard Kipling’s Six Serving Men poem.  It has a clear structure with which everyone can describe the world around them to one another.

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

The Elephant’s Child


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