Level 4 PDP: Constellation Reflection

Constellation has been really interesting and thought provoking this year, allowing me to challenge my ideas and the way I interpret other artist’s work. Although I initially found it intimidating to voice my opinions in lectures, being able to hear other students interpretations of work, working as a collective, and being encouraged to discuss my ideas was really beneficial. It allowed me to consider new concepts, and overall deepen my understanding of areas in art and design.

In the first term I had After Modernism which was exciting as it taught me a lot more about the evolution of art movements and how world events caused their advance. After Modernism also had a direct influence on my own work as it introduced me to so many artists’ work that I was previously unfamiliar with. For example, in the Abstract Expressionism lecture we looked at the work of Art & Language, ’Portrait of V.I. Lenin with Cap, in the Style of Jackson Pollock III’ which inspired me to produce portraits in my subject brief that were almost unrecognisable and research into other abstract expressionist artists outside of the lectures. We also visited the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Tate Modern. Being able to view some of the work we had been discussing in lectures in person really benefited my understanding and learning as I think it can be easy to miss important details when looking at a photograph. It was also interesting to note the difference between the one viewpoint you get in photograph compared to the multitude of viewpoints you can get in person, and how the meaning behind the work can develop with this. Our visit to the National Museum Cardiff was particularly interesting as we not only discussed the work housed within the building, but the building itself and its architecture. Although having visited the museum many times, it was almost shocking how much I’d missed as it was hidden in plain sight. After having a discussion of the Gallery and Institutional Critique on the significance of the gallery’s layout, I can now appreciate the relevance of the surroundings in relation to the art. Through the After Modernism lectures I was introduced to work that encouraged abstract, conceptual ideas, that ended up inspiring my own work.

The second term of constellation was a lot more thought provoking for me than I initially thought it would be. I explored the topic of Things Can Be Otherwise. Although I didn’t choose this option as I had never studied philosophy before, and didn’t think it was an area that I would be interested in, it has provided me with a deeper interest in philosophical understanding. Although initially it was quite an intimidating and unknown subject for me, it allowed me to consider ideas I’d never thought of before and made me question things I thought I knew to be certain. Discussing Russell’s concept of knowledge and the table was particularly interesting as it made me question my sense awareness; for example, with an object’s colour or texture. If it is constantly changing then what is its true reality? This questioning of reality linked in well with my practice as it enabled me to analyse my own work deeper. Within Things Can Be Otherwise, we had a lot of writing practice. I found this really challenging as I am not very confident with my analytical skills. However this practice proved to be beneficial for my writing skills as it taught me how to produce concise, well structured and well supported paragraphs. This was an important skill to gain, as I also have a tendency to ramble on in essays, including a lot of information and sources with no direct relevance to my essay question. This ultimately helped me to write my final essay as it has taught me how to select important sources to support my claims and arguments, and discard anything that doesn’t directly link. I feel I have significantly improved my analytical skills thanks to writing practice, and am now confident in voicing my interpretations and opinions of other’s work.

I decided to write my essay on indexical drawing, which having attended the Things Can Be Otherwise lectures, I now have a deeper understanding of. I wanted to focus on indexical drawing as I found it inspirational for my studio work, and was a topic I wanted to learn more about. I think that the relation I created between constellation and my own work was really important as it enabled me to contextualise my essay into my work, and create an essay that I was really interested in exploring. Indexical drawing is a key concept for me that without constellation, I would be unaware of.

By attending the keynotes I was able to learn about such a broad range of subjects and discover new artists every week. For me, the most significant lecture was Tradition & Originality. Having attended this lecture, I now have insight in the misunderstanding between tradition and originality and am able to put in into context. In the lecture we discussed how the future changes history. At first I found this concept hard to grasp but when put into an example of how Vermeer’s paintings were only understood when the camera was invented years later, does it then make sense. This knowledge could be useful to me as a learner, as previously I had only considered how the past affects the future; now I have a broader understanding of the significance of all art on each other.

In conclusion, I found that all of the areas of constellation were really beneficial for the development of my understanding, especially the second term. I feel that I now have a deeper knowledge of more areas of art and design, and how it is linked and impacted upon by the ever-changing world. Constellation allowed me to develop my analytical skills and consider how I can relate my own practice to different subjects’ concepts, that I was previously unaware of.


Things Can Be Otherwise – Seminar 6

Writing As Looking

This seminar explored how writing can promote looking. We analysed two pieces of work by people in the seminar group.

Rhiannon’s Sculpture:


Notes made about sculpture:

  • rough surface looks like it’d be soft.
  • impression of skin.
  • feminine form.
  • looks like leather texture.
  • colour looks classical, like a classical sculpture, almost like the Venus statue.
  • pillar of flesh.
  • human torso minus arms (suggestion of a torso, not literal).
  • liquid form .
  • looks like dollops of thick white paint.
  • insect’s exoskeleton, skin becomes a shield -> hard yet delicate, like an insect, could be broken.
  • actually about form, shape & materials, no actual meaning.
  • contrast between hard dense material and malleable shape and liquid. 
  • called globule, liquid-esc type shape.
  • shape reinforced against the hard geometric shape of the stairs (?):


Sentence beginnings:

“Banks and I believe; Yates’s small sculpture conveys a plump female figure with expressive marks that could possible resemble leather suggesting this female is a tough chick.”

Mel’s Animation Still: 


Notes made about the still:

  • challenges gender norms and explores gender binaries.
  • figure is transgender/ has no gender at all.
  • the colours behind each figure section challenge gender norms and traditional views on gender -> blue is paired with the woman, pink is paired with the man and most importantly black is paired with the alien head as the gender is unknown to us.
  • the way the genitals are covered makes the figure gender anonymous to us.
  • third arm, body postures.
  • simple, innocent, playfulness.
  • conflict in body language ], man takes a powerful stance whereas the female is more shy, almost like she is attempting to cover herself.

Sentence beginnings:

“Rozel’s animation still brakes the barrier between gender binaries, challenging traditional views on gender. The lurid colours protest against gender typical colours and the black has significance of mutuality between male and female. the covering of the genitals accomplishes an androgynous connotation, further breaking the barrier.”

Things Can Be Otherwise: Seminar 3

In this constellation we looked at technology and the idea of cyborgs. Is everyone a cyborg? Because I wear glasses does that make me a cyborg?

One of the ideas discussed was the question of whether we are all cyborgs. We are programmed by our parents from birth to act a certain way and have certain morals. Therefore are we really individuals or objects that have been built up and programmed much like machines. We then discussed the question of whether animals are cyborgs as predators are programmed genetically to to kill to survive.

Social media controls our lives. We present ourselves in a certain way and use filters to aid this. Is it possible now for us to survive without it? In the present day the younger generation validate themselves through their phones, our personalities are on our phones. Combined with our phones, are we then cyborgs? If you’re thoroughly programmed, what’s left of the self? We are now completely at the whim of technology.

The second part of this seminar had us looking at the idea of drawing. There are three types of drawing: Iconic (where there is resemblance, for example a portrait), Symbolic (with the idea of convention, for example when we see a red traffic light we know to stop), and finally Indexical (causality, for example smoke signifies a fire).

In this seminar we were focusing on indexical drawing, participating in it ourselves. We went into the park and used the tools around us provided by nature to make drawings. I rubbed and printed objects such as stones, leaves and sticks into molehills and then pressed these objects into my sketchbook. The results created were very delicate and faint:



Things Can Be Otherwise – Seminar 2

In this seminar we looked at the opposing theories of Plato and Nietzsche .

Plato believed that whatever we encounter in life, there’s a perfect original template in a transcendent realm that only thought can access. Instead we are living in a secondary state. Plato believed that all art is a copy of a copy, it is a reflection of the secondary state and not the real thing. He believed art takes us away from the truth and deceives us.

“The sun, I think you will agree, not only makes the things we see visible, but causes the processes of generation, growth and nourishment, without itself being such a process.” – Plato, Republic, 509b.

“The art of representation is therefore a long way removed from the truth…” – Plato, Republic, 597e -598b.


Examples of deception in the arts:

  • photoshop -> mistaken for reality and so creates a state in which we compare ourselves to.
  • social media -> makes life look exciting all the time, puts a filter on reality.
  • newspapers/reporting -> fake news/ open to bias.
  • pornography -> we assume these depictions of women as objects is how women should be viewed in real life.

Nietzsche directly attacks Plato as he said that instead of everything being fixed/singular, reality is in a constant state of flux and everything is changing. The idea of a perfect singular thing is just an image. There is no such thing as a singular perfect version, everyone translates things differently. Therefore Nietzsche celebrates the arts as he sees it as always going through transformation, taking something from one realm and turning it into something else (a metaphor).

“We know nothing whatsoever about an essential quality called honesty” – Nietzsche

“Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions” – Nietzsche

Plato —> Idealism

Nietzsche —> Nihilism (denies transcendent truth)

In this seminar we looked at answering 3 main questions:

  1. How do Plato and Nietzsche’s theories of knowledge differ?
  2. Which idea/s is at the heart of their thinking?
  3. Which passages in either Plato’s or Nietzsche’s texts help to reveal their ideas?

As an artist, the ideology of Nietzsche seems most relevant to my practice. Nietzsche believed that reality is in a constant state of flux, constantly changing. This relates to the Fine Art practice as they say that everything takes inspiration off something else. I may look at ‘Starry Night’ by Van Gogh, and not replicate it, but take inspiration from his brush technique and use this one reality to transform into another reality/metaphor of my own. I think Neitsche’s idea that reality is ever-changing has status as we may look at something in one particular way at one point in time, but over time this view changes.

Paragraph Practice:

Nietzsche was a philosopher who believed the world is in a constant state of flux, where reality is ever-changing. An example of such is when we put our hand on a table, it is a solid and still surface; however if we were to take a microscope to it, you would see particles vibrating. Therefore what we perceive to be reality may not be reality in another state, and in the words of Nietzsche, “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions”. Relating to this, Nietzsche supported the arts as he believed the artist is taking something from one realm and turning it into something else, another metaphor. This is true for me at least as I may look at the work of one artist and utilise it to create my own reality (art).

Things Can Be Otherwise – Seminar 1

In this lecture we looked at a passage from Bertrand Russel’s book ‘The Problems of Philosophy’. It explored the concept of a table and whether we really know it to be true. For example, when I look at my desk I see a certain colour, however, when the light changes the colour becomes completely different. Therefore what is the table’s true colour? This made me think of reality in terms of paintings. Is a realist painting really depicting reality or just the reality in the painter’s mind? As reality constantly changes through different circumstances could you consider an abstract painting just as realistic as a realist painting?

One question that we looked at was What Counts as Knowledge in the Internet Age? In the matter of seconds we can have endless articles, so why should we bother with books and lectures? Because everything is available do we eventually stop learning? Everyone is capable of an opinion, but knowledge requires discovery and understanding.

We then discussed the idea of a drawing. Can anything that documents the existence of an object be classed as a drawing? Therefore can these pieces of crumpled paper be classed as drawings? I think they can be classed as drawings as they are illustrating reality in a different format.


“For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, & never can observe anything but the perception” – David Hume, ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’, 1740, p.252

Finally we continued to answer the question, What Counts as Knowledge in the age of the internet? Who do you trust? Wikipedia? I began by saying that the only internet sources I would trust when researching in my Fine Art practice is gallery websites and the artist’s own websites. I never trust Wikipedia. However, the issue of bias in a gallery’s crit of work was raised as obviously they’re article is going to be biased towards work, especially if an exhibition is being held as they obviously would want it to do well. In some cases have they even seen the work to be able to discuss it? Why is their opinion more valuable than my own? In terms of the artist’s own explanation, they may feel one way about their work to begin with, but this may change with time. So who should we trust?


After Modernism: Site-Specifity

  • Olafur Eliason ‘New York City Waterfalls’, 2008


  • Roger Hiorns ‘Seizure’


Are both these works site-specific?

  • Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling, 1508-12
  • – The frescos reinforce the existing function of space. The impact of classic sculpture on the depiction of the human body as twisting around a central core. 
  • – Relates to space BUT ISN’T site-specific
  • Olafur Eliason ‘The Weather Project’, 2003-4
  • The work produces a new function for the space. Our sense of the volume of the gallery as a gestalt: Minimalism. The play between illusion & anti-illusion: Greenberg’s modernism. The idea that an environment can be a work of art: Conceptualism. Questioning the way people should behave in an art gallery: Institutional Critique.
  • site-specific.


  1. Site-Specifity In The Gallery: The work consists of the space in the gallery / Mel Bochner ‘Measurement: From the Space of Statements to the Space of Events (With Piet Mondrian)’ – measuring the space one painting is given, does the space define its importance?
  2. Monumental Land Art: Michael Heizer “Dissipate’ – legendary status as no-one knew where they were except Heizer / James Turrel ‘Roden Crater Project’ / Robert Smithson ‘Spiral Jetty’ – by preserving it they are overriding the artist’s intentions.
  3. Non-Monumental Art: Richard Box ‘Field’, 2004 – deliberately temporary.
  4. Monumental Public Art: Christo & Jeanne Claude ‘Surrounded Islands’ – self-funded freedom of action / ‘Pont Neuf Wrapped’ – confirms Paris as an exciting artistic place to be, how places want to be portrayed.
  5. Non-Monumental Art: Andy Goldsworthy ‘Midsummer Snowballs’
  6. Public Art: Unofficial Art & Official: Banksy ‘mural’ / Anish Kapoor ‘Dirty Corner’, 2015














After Modernism: The Gallery and Institutional Critique

  1. Gallery architecture
  2. The Princely Collection- the evolution of the gallery interior (how the use of the wall is changing – how they’re hanging the paintings. – used to be done in a tapestry style where it covered the whole wall but slowly progressed to being spaced apart and being separate pieces of art standing alone.
    The introduction of a guidebook set a basic art history, now we use audio guides & apps on our phones (Andrea Fraser’s ‘Still from Little Frank and his Carp’)
    Development of the white cube space (origins – Russian futurists 1917, Nazis anti-modern art show exhibition of degenerate modern art), MoMA pure pristine white space in which they show modern art, clear everything out of space, no direct daylight or or interference, art speaks most clearly in its own voice, space is neutral. Sign of neutrality, but sign of neutrality is not the same as being useful. Space around painting adds to the luxury and the painting’s pristine-ness. Art can become in competition with the space.
  3. Artists Looking at Traditional Gallery Space – Anthony Gormley ‘Field’ 1991 (fills gallery space so people can’t walk around, in a sense they’re gawping at us like we gawp at art, creates a space in which you can’t go – makes you aware of the volume of the floor area by refusing you access to it).
  4. Institutional Critique – Daniel Buren wrapped a museum in his paintings, museum normally the container but he reversed it.
  5. The Cabinet of Curiosities- like surprising juxtaposition of unlike objects.
  6. Institutional Critique (again)
  7. The Spectacular Museum – Guggenheim NY 1959
  8. Mega Art – Jim Dine ‘Three Red Spanish Venuses’ 1997/ turbine hall Tate Modern – artists go big so work isn’t swallowed up by the space.
  9. The Museum Without Walls – rather than having to see artworks in person, with technology the art can be brought to us (Google search – doesn’t distinguish between, it’s more like a cabinet of curiosity). Their significance is no longer based on their uniqueness but on their circulation.