Constellation PDP – Year 1

When the constellation lectures first started, I felt I was lost in the middle of nowhere. There were a lot of things to learn, such as new terminology, names of artists, poets, scholars, ideologists and writers, and some of the names are in French, Italian or Spanish. Moreover, learning art is also the interaction of art history or history of the west. It has been challenging but also instructive especially to a student who comes from an eastern cultural background.

Art is an interesting and broad subject. It is not only aesthetics appreciation but also fairly philosophical. It reflects the internal feelings and emotions of artists as well as social status at that time. Artists inject their emotions and thoughts into their work abstractly. It can interact between the artists and audiences, stimulates audiences’ imagination, contemplation and curiosity thus resonates with the audiences. These questions are asked very often after viewing art work – what does it mean ? why is it art? what is art ? Understanding or interpreting the context of an art work depends an individual’s knowledge, experience, culture and imagination. It requires a lengthy journey to achieve a full understanding.

The constellation lectures help to build and strengthen my understanding of art, its history and western history which has broadened my knowledge base. I believe this is my weakness. It offers the opportunity for me to learn from a different scope of art and thought thus benefiting and improving my own practice.

I have been immersed in my original culture since I was born and it was a major part of my life. After emigrated to UK, my own culture has more or less been influenced and forgotten. Due to constellation requires on understanding of art in different aspects, such as the western history, art history, culture and biography of artists, sometimes, I compared the eastern and western style and found that it is very interesting. This experience triggered my interest to look into my own culture again and it is enthralling to compare both the east and west. The transition from one culture to another or mixing both can entail many challenges and may help to reshape the way I identify my own value and practice.

Through not only the constellation but also the first year experience, I realize that my current skills and knowledge need to be seriously strengthened. I will put more effort into finding ways of developing my weaknesses into my strengthens. Therefore, I would like to focus on doing research about eastern and western culture in terms of their art and technique. Although many students/artists try hard to be original, learning and studying from the work of other artists is inevitable. Thus, spending more time on books, videos, museums, galleries and exhibitions is also necessary . In addition, effectively managing the time is also great importance to study, as poor time management leads to too much stress and a disappointing outcome. Observation is a key component of being an artist as well. We need to take time to notice things surrounding us and be more sensitive, how colours change through seasons, how bright and dim lights project onto objects affecting perspective, how human behaviour changes the environment or is being changed by the environment. Practice is also essential as without good skills ideas cannot be delivered.

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Professor Clive Cazeaux: Do I have ideas or do ideas have me?

When I first saw this title it was like I was being asked whether the chicken or the egg came first. Until Professor Cazeaux moved on to talk about English philosopher John Locke’s tabula rasa (blank slate) philosophy. He said that the human mind is a blank slate when we are born. We have nothing until our senses are impressed upon the outside world leading us to form ideas. I think it is quite convincing. Discard all the basic senses as a human, for instance, thirst, hunger, anxiety or happiness, as it cannot be changed and our individual thoughts are empty. To define an individual content is dependent on how an individual has been changed by the surrounding environment and experience. We experience life, we learn, absorb, filter and regenerate our thoughts and ideas then gradually developing who we are.

An argument about ‘art is dead’ was brought up in the lecture. Duchamp’s readymade “Fountain” was used as an example. It was considered as a sign that it was end of artistic expression. The artist is no longer he or she who expresses from him or herself. They simply borrow readymade objects around them. This gesture means art can be anything. So why draw, paint or sculpt when we can do anything. If there is no material constraint, what can be art? It has really got me thinking that whether ‘art is died’ or the ‘skill is died’. In the modern art world details of art works are usually avoided or tend to be minimised, only important elements are maintained because the meaning and concept are dominated. That is to say the skills of artists have also been minimised and are no longer important as they have been replaced by ‘meaning’. Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ might not has any aesthetic value but, in my opinion, it included a successful modern art work element. His readymade ideas successfully diverted aesthetic in art from physical to conceptual.
In the lecture Professor Cazeaux also mentioned that we are living in a pattern that has been shaped by the environment around us, which makes us who we are. I partly agree with this. Although we are living in an environment has been shaped or constructed, I believe that we are free to make our choices and decisions about who we are. As artists and designers should be true to our own feelings.

Dr. Mahnaz Shah- The Literal and Phenomenal

Phenomenal is intangible and conceptual and is only exists within the human mind.
It is a sense which responds to what we see and encounter. The response will be different based on the individual past experience the response will be difference.

Literal is literally the opposite of phenomenal. Literal is something which exists, as a fact and something which is visible.

In my opinion, in the art and design aspect, the ideas of artists and designers are phenomenal and their work is literal. The response from the viewers are also phenomenal.

Artists and designers should have a strong sense of perception, observation and sensitivity. They are like an interpreter who translates the world or their experience and feeling into their work by using the language of art. Their work embodies a meaning not only an object. The work itself is a literal object which we can see and touch. It stimulates the audience’s to imagination and thinking thus derives another phenomenal.

Art plays an important part in human life. It is all around us which gives motivation, inspiration and joy to our daily life. The artist use visual language to change people’s perspective of the world. Through art appreciation we have a deeper insight to our inner self.