Constellation Second Year Review

Constellation has been a lot more interesting this year, as well as easier to navigate seeing as this is my second year here at the university I had a better idea of what to expect. For my topic choices at the beginning of the year I feel I had a limited range of  options that  I could pick in terms of my interests and things that relate to my course, graphic design. This at first made me a bit down beat about constellation this year. In the end I decided to go with Puzzling out Contemporary Art. My reasoning behind this was after speaking to some people I thought, “What the heck, if there is nothing really relating to what I do as a designer, I may as well choose something in a creative subject that I know very little about”. That is how I ended up choosing, Puzzling out Contemporary Art.

During the first session with Jon Clarkson we had a discussion about what we think make art contemporary. During this we debated about the date, particular style and if the art had to symbolise or mean anything. None of these points really got decided upon as contemporary art I found out can be considered as many things, something that later on interested and annoyed me. The first piece we had a look at Leonardo’s Cat by Isa Genzken. I found this a very intriguing bit of work or installation to start off with. It was a pile made up of mundane objects and at first it just looked a big random mess to me. To this day I still can’t really say what it is about, but I would like to think that it is  piece about challenging composition and structure. This was one of the good things I found while on this module. Contemporary art, unlike other creative areas like graphic design, product design and architecture, for example, can be interpreted in more than one way. Later on in the course I found this sort of work frustrating. Examples such as Damian Hurst, who would simply put things into tanks, his most famous the shark. For me to call something like this art might be a bit too easy, with little skill involved it may seem to someone like myself who does graphic design, which is all about a process and construction that exhibition pieces like this are infuriating. It almost feels like contemporary and modern art is just there for the sake of it. To this day I still find things like this annoying that they can pass as ‘art’, but I still do find them interesting to examine and try and find some sort of meaning behind what is happening and in addition to this I have felt his choice has opened up my perception of contemporary art.

The second part of the constellation topic was the summative assessment. Due to my slight dissatisfaction towards modern and contemporary art, I wanted to compare and contrast it to my course, graphic communication. This way I could research contemporary art more and broaden my horizons further by comparing the two subjects. At first I found it challenging to research the contemporary art side of the essay because the only experience I have had with the subject is the constellation course. As the essay took shape, I was able to gather a greater understanding for the subject and began to accept it more for what it is. Overall, I feel that is the biggest benefit I have gained from this, not an improvement in my written skills but being able to look at exhibitions and modern art and not judge it so negatively.

The final part of the constellation module was to write our dissertation proposal. After partly writing my summative assessment on graphic design, I wished to do a whole essay on it which is why I have eventually come up with the question/statement, “Graphic Design is the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines or books, which will be nonexistent in the future”, discuss. I have also chosen to create a visual representation of graphic design from my findings.

One of the key issues with graphic design and communication is that it is hard to pin down what it really is. Some people think it is one thing, while others believe it is something completely different. I feel that this is down to peoples’ perception and how educated they are on the matter. For example, the online Oxford Dictionary definition is  “The art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017). This definition is not wrong as these components are an important part of the industry, but people will argue that this is a very dated view of the subject, and in the modern day  a lot more different practices and thought is involved. From this introduction to graphic design there is already a few conflicting ideas about what it really is. This is why I wish explore this area.

Before this, I found it difficult coming up with a question. Because we could literally write about anything, I struggled with narrowing down what I wanted to do. All I knew at this stage was that I would like the question to relate back to graphic design somehow. At first I was desperate to do something on Star Wars, but was finding it rather difficult to link it back to graphic design in some way. After some more research I found that graphic design had no clear definition and everyone they asked would say that it was something different. Most people said things like, Photoshop, computers  and posters, but graphic design is much more than that which is why I wish to explore this topic.

Overall, constellation has been more interesting than last year and I think more enjoyable. It may have raised more questions in terms of contemporary art and my potential dissertation, but this has left me intrigued to find out and research them more.