Perception in Practice: Week 1

Catherine Belsey stated that “there is no practice without theory”. I agree with Belsey because all art and design has a purpose or a concept behind it. All of my work has a concept, a response to an issue. I think this is what makes art art; it gives it meaning, purpose, a way for the audience to understand it. Even the things we take for granted, things we aren’t consciously aware of have a theory behind them.

Roland Barthes, the French literary theorist, talks about how children are “a homunculus”, a “microcosm of the adult world”. It explains that children are a smallest version of man. He goes on to talk about how children’s toys are “constituted by myths r techniques of modern adult life” meaning that these toys portray everyday jobs and systems of the modern man including:

  • Military
  • Postman
  • Fireman
  • Schools
  • Transport (trains, cars, trunks and buses)
  • Hairstyling

“These toys show what adults find not unusual, war, ugliness etc.”.

Even today young girls are unconsciously shown how to rear a baby with the new babydoll’s which urinate, cried and can even be fed. So many children have these toys and yet they are told not to get pregnant at a young age and to always use protection? This is contradictory don’t you think? I understand that girls may need help/guidance when it comes to having a baby but from such a young age? No. Times have change, society has change from the ideology that woman are baby makers.

Anyway, back on topic, all of the toys we play with as a child in the modern society, are replicas of issues with deal with as adults. We give our children toy soldiers, plastic guns and town builds with burning buildings and destruction. Is this a way of showing young people what normality is in our world? Or are we even conscious of the fact that this is what they are exposed to?

I feel more research on the matter is needed and the opinions of other theorists to develop my own opinion.

Analysing my Second Semester 1000 formative assessment

Over the past four months I have continued to develop my skills and ideas as an artist by collaborating with other courses, testing out new skills and improving my current collage and expressive painting skills. The projects were very intense and moved at a fast pace because we had a lot of work to compete in such a short period of time.

I found the field project quite challenging because everyone in my groups had very different ideas and ways of working so coming up with a collaboration sometimes proved difficult. I found it hard to work with a few of the other students because they weren’t enthusiastic or motivated to work as a group in a discipline they aren’t particularly interested in. The projects were only a week long which was great for a taster into each subject especially for first year however, it didn’t give much time to develop ideas and create a piece. Despite this, the project did make us think quickly and work together to produce the art. It also allowed me to grasp an understanding of other disciplines in the university. Although the field project did have its negatives I did really enjoy this time because I was able to produce some really cool experimental work. I mostly enjoyed the Fine art field project because it was more my style of work and we were able to produce more conceptual work using photography, video and performance. It may seem bias to say I mostly enjoyed the Fine art project but I felt it was more intense and we produce a range of different piece of work within the time period and not just one piece. I felt the ceramics project was a little too basic because we didn’t get time to fire and glaze the work so I felt it was very rushed and unfinished however, the photographs we got from the work were very interesting and abstract!

Although the field was not perfect and had a few flaws, I did enjoy its because it introduced me to a few new skills with clay in ceramics and maker. I find my work can be a little messy so working with students from Artist Designer Maker helped me to think about the presentation and layout of my own work, Working with my hands in ceramics meant I was able to mould a range of interesting shapes. The theme of the projects remain the same and was based around light however, they didn’t necessarily have too be linked. We were able to explore light in many different ways in each discipline – we explored light and abstract shadows in ceramics, changes of architecture using a pinhole camera in Artist Designer Maker and how light changes the mood and emotion of a person or atmosphere in Fine Art.

After the field workshops we started the second module of the year – The consolidation project. I felt this module started off a little slow because we were looking at a few collage techniques with just image before incorporating paint and other materials including packaging, newspaper, coloured paper and bubble wrap. I have completed a lot of collage in the past as part of GCSE and A Level so I thought the beginning of the project was a little tedious because it didn’t particularly challenge me. This part of the project also didn’t have much of a theme either meaning all of my work was random and experimental. In terms of experimenting with collage, it was a great way to start however, I knew pretty quickly that I needed a theme to focus on. After watching a programme on women’s rights (100 years of Votes for women, BBC) I decided to focus my work on this – which also feeds into my interest in political and social art.

I started to research the suffragette movement and began to experiment with imagery and paint. I mostly used reds when adding the paint because it represented the violence and trauma many women went through in order to get the vote for women in the UK. The images provided a range of key events throughout that time. Most of the photographs were black and white as they were from the early 20th century which showed the time they were from. Also, my printer stopped working properly so many of the images came out distorted giving them a vintage look which worked in my favour because it added to the atmosphere I was attempting to create. During my research I realised although these incredible women were successful in their acts, it was only for a small number of people of a certain class and status who were able to vote. It isn’t recognised much but, black women were not given the vote until the National Citizen Act of 1983. In current news, British citizens of Jamaican origin are being deported even though they have legal right to remain in the UK and have served the country in many ways throughout history.

I enjoyed this term more than I enjoyed the first term because I was able to experiment with a wider range of skills within and outside of my discipline which gave me an insight to what I am exposed to and what is on offer to me at the university. The consolidation project was longer than the material project we completed in the first term giving us more time to develop ideas and themes and to complete a better more thought through final piece. I am going to continue the theme of the suffragettes and women’s right and will research the topic more intensely as well as continuing the collage route and producing a due drawings for the final exhibition because I think it is very intense topic which I could research and explore for a long time but I want to express my feelings and responses to the ongoing movement in a image of different ways including collage, drawing, painting and sculpture. For the exhibition I am going to produce a large drawing which is overpowering and expressive as a response to the movement in the early 29th Century.

How do you imagine the future?

The future is imagined in so many different ways by different people: scientists, artists, environmentalists and the government. With the way things are going in terms of global warming, climate change and mass production the future is uncertain. Campaigns, awareness and frameworks are in place to help reduce the increase damage to our world but with growing productions and the expansion of companies, destruction and damage is still causes a massive problem.

Artists have been approaching the problem over many centuries. Joseph Gandy produced work set in the future however, the people in the paintings are living the same lifestyle as though in his day. The work shows no progression  because the building looks as though they are from Ancient Rome and show the slow deterioration if buildings and society.

Zhan Wang is a contemporary artist who created an animation which portrayed the future as a clean, colourful happy environment. The work is very optimistic and shows a positive view of what the future could look like. If society changed the way we do this and how much we use, the future could indeed look like this but people need to be education in order to change our ways. The animation showed us using materials and resources sourced from the moon which implies we have used up all of our natural resources through industry, exploitation and consumption. Although the piece provides a positive light on the future it does also show what might happen if we continue to consume as much as we do and this increasing rate.

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Sustainable Design

Sustainable design originated from the Stockholm Agreement (1972) which stated the social, economical and environment development as society changed and progressed. The agreement also commented on the fact that modern day design needed to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future generations.

The mass production of stuff is becoming a huge problem in society as companies and investing massive amounts of money into advertising products to make them look flashy and fashionable to the consumer. We are falling for this advertising at the massive rate which is making us throw away unwanted but perfectly usable items. Not only are companies investing in marketing but they are also making their products with planned obsolescence – so the product is programmed to break down after a certain amount of time (Apple is one of the biggest companies who are guilty of this). The new products will have a new update processor or memory storage which cannot be transferred into the new machine as the company change the shape to force you to buy a whole new machine so you can have the better processor etc.

In order to increase our sustainability as a planet we need to start taking into account dematerialisation. This means we should reduce the diversity of materials and resources we use in mass production, substitute and support current products with a service which reconditions them or using less resources. In terms of travel, we should use public transport more than cars to reduce emissions in the atmosphere and global warming. This can be achieved but using a laundrette instead of having a washing machine and doing larger, less frequent washes or by using software instead of hardware i.e. email, e-tickets and downloadable books rather than paper. However, this is a vicious cycle because companies including dropbox and Apple take advantage of this and make you buy more storage to use their services or the latest product in order to be compatible with many programs and apps.

The linear economy cycle is a massive problem in todays society because it using raw materials and creates a massive amount of waste which is just discarded and dumped in landfill sites or the oceans. The circular economy is started to make more of a difference of modern day industry because it is recycle used products to make the latest stuff and is wasting less raw materials. Companies such as Patagonia recycle materials to make their clothing and Puma have created deposable shopping bags which desolve in water – but the question is what does the matter resolve into and does it contaminate the water or the air? However, it is extremely difficult to recycle some materials including clothing because companies find it hard to reclaim sold clothing to recycle and much of that that is made it cheap and of a bad quality.

Caroline Power, Tide of plastic rubbish in the oceans, 2017.

Recyling and reusing products is getting bigger and becoming a more current thing but society needs to be educate on what materials can be recycled and how we can use less matter (especially plastic) when buying food and other products. This should really start in schools where children need to be taught the problems with consumption and how we can improve it – identify the problem and create a resolution.

Development of industry and sustainability’s influence.

Society today is currently unsustainable however, this is not a overnight development but started during the industrial revolution where mass production was introduced.

As a Fine artists there are ways of making my practice more sustainable. I have the ability to use a range of materials sourced from recycled/ environmentally-friendly companies or possibly make my own paints using eggs and sugar. I could also reuse my materials including wood, paintings to create collages of other paintings, canvas frames  and metal sculptures.

The first and second industrial revolution was a system put in place to answer basic needs including trade, industry and globalisation. During the first industrial revolution capital goods (machines to make produce with) i.e. food, tools and textiles. The mass migration from rural to an urban lifestyle was part of many peoples lives because factories were taking over from agriculture and local produce. Many artists including Phillip James De Loutherbourg documented the changes and impacts on the environment the factories had through painting and drawing. This shows there was some concern from the start about the impact on the local environment e.g. cows not being able to produce milk and fish in the rivers dying. The second industrial revolution (1860-1960) was the time where mass production took place (cars and toasters). There was no local impacts on the environment but there were global impacts developing which caused a disconnect to what we do/produce and the impact it has. Consumerism saturated society so designers started to restyle models to make them more attractive to society and make people buy more and more. This new styling is known as streamlining which makes cars and consumer items cooler and different. new styles are more flashy to the eye and force people to make unnecessary purchases. Apple is a prime example of this because they bring out new updates which was not compatible with the old phones forcing you to buy a new phone. The updates recently have slowed the old phones down and destroyed the battery which again forces people to buy the new Apple products.  Other companies which carry out planned obsolescence include those that make stockings. The laddering of stockings encourages consumerism because people will continue to buy more which therefore, discourages research into developing new better quality materials.

Michelle Reader is a contemporary artist who creates figurative art reuses everyday materials including egg boxes, magazines and plastic bags. The piece of art I chose was a 3D portrait of Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall. She created this work in reference to his new series ‘war of Waste’. Her work raises awareness of materials and how we use them. For this piece of art is produced using egg boxes, cooking magazines and cutlery which are all easily accessible household items. I think this work is sustainable because she is reusing materials and is creating awareness for sustainability. Some of the materials she uses aren’t necessarily recyclable however, the reusing of this materials so create a new product is better for the environment than wasting shit.

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