PDP/DissertationPosted: February 2, 2015
I think that my dissertation proposal was well thought out and focused on my interests as an artist whilst still maintaining links to my practice despite feeling rather under prepared to begin writing a full dissertation. This is perhaps because I do not feel that I have undertaken enough academic reading prior to this or written an essay since the first year of university. Although my dissertation has changed drastically from my initial ideas the proposal has helped me to stay focused on the topics I have chosen to explore. This is because I have had the ability to look back through the document. I play with the idea of functionality within my work, so it feels natural to look at how function has been explored throughout the twentieth and twenty first centuries as modern art is always more interesting to me than classical styles. I have based my study into works that I already had an interest in, with the one exception of functional art, and I think this has helped me to keep an interest in my what I am writing about. At times I have struggled to generate ideas of what to write about, but once I have remembered about a particular artwork or artist that I had previously researched for another work I found I had most of the knowledge in my head, and just needed to read further to gain an academic perspective. Linking all of this knowledge back to the idea of autonomy was not easy at first, as it is a lot to take in and begin to understand in terms of work it is not commonly applied to, especially as some texts are not an easy read. However, I feel I have managed to harness this to keep the theme throughout my dissertation.
I did not write my dissertation in the order it is presented, and I don’t think that has helped me to stay focused and write as efficiently as I could have. I began with the first half of the first chapter, then moved on to the second chapter before starting the fourth. I then went back to work on my first before starting my third. I found it difficult to begin my third chapter as there is so much out there I could have potentially included, and I had little base knowledge of it, or so I thought before I began to remember previous lectures from my art foundation course. My biggest feat when writing this chapter was through a text I was reading for my first chapter, on autonomy, which also discussed the work of Superflex. From there I was able to build a knowledge of their work quite rapidly thanks to their website which is full of articles and information. This also refreshed my mind into the recollection of other projects that I had not thought about for a number of years.
When reading texts I have made sure to keep a record of the page number, or written the quote down. Although this has been a lengthier process than simply writing them into the text it has meant that I have been able to go back to a text which I read earlier in my project and add it without having to search for the reference by reading again, and it also allowed me to overcome the problem that there are limited copies of the books that heavily influenced my dissertation. This has also meant that I have referenced my essay as I wrote it, which I feel has kept me more organised. Another helpful tool is an app I found for my phone (RefME), which has helped me to reference and write my bibliography by simply scanning the barcode of a book. It also organises all of my references so I am easily able to find anything I need. My bibliography has simply been exported from the app’s website into a word document and edited, which has saved valuable time and eliminated some of the stress and bore of formatting.
The conclusion has been tough to write and I do not think it is a strong enough piece of writing. I feel that more advice would have been helpful, as it is sometimes hard to generate valuable ideas from a text I am so engrossed in. I struggled to pick out the main topics of my dissertation at first, but have found that proofreading multiple times has allowed me to realise the main points of the text.
To improve my work I have chosen to work in the library on a number of occasions as it helps me to focus. It has also meant that many of the books I have needed have been at hand as well as books that I simply wanted to query items in. It has sped up my writing dramatically when I have needed to produce a chapter in a small amount of time. It also meant I would be less likely to procrastinate, its hard to focus when you’ve hit a bit of a wall and have such easy access to the internet and are spending so much time with a computer.
Overall I think I have achieved a successful piece of writing, but have struggled a lot with small details. At times it has felt like playing Chinese whispers, as a lot of information about presentation and formatting seems to have been left unsaid and when asking peers for advice everyone has been told something different by their tutor. However, I think that this has been overcome through a peer support system that we have created out of necessity.