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.
I have been focusing on artworks that have functional aspects, but I feel I need to also look at art outside of the gallery too if I want to look at the many types of art that have a connection with everyday life. I am struggling to work with three chapters, I don’t think that three ‘topics’ are going to be enough for what I want to look at. I am going to expand to four, one for a historical context and theory, one about functional objects becoming art, art that is functional and also one to discuss art outside of the gallery. I think this will allow me to make a more whole point, but each one will need to be shorter (somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 each) to allow for my introduction and my conclusion. I have already written a significant amount about functional objects becoming art, a historical context and art outside the gallery. I am struggling to think of art that is functional and I also need to develop a sort of argument for the autonomy of art to give a reasonable discussion in my conclusion.
I am now back at university and my dissertation tutor has been changed, which would make sense for the lack of support over the summer. It has been quite hard to adjust to a different tutor with the usual crossed wires when discussing topics, but I am now looking to change the course my dissertation is taking. Instead of focusing on social reception of art I am now looking at autonomy and commodities becoming art. I want to look at work that sits on the intersection between art and design and attempt to define them. I am also trying to think of suitable titles for the chapters, but I am struggling to commit to something.
Over the summer break I have been reading texts to help me refine my ideas, I have been focusing on works by Jasper Johns in relation to Duchamp, as recommended to me in feedback received before the end of term. I feel that this is possibly not the direction I want to go down, as I am more interested in function removed to create art works and I think I want to look at functional art. I am quite unsure about what I want to do, and have e-mailed my tutor but had no response.
The feedback I have received is positive, and suggests that I need a more refined title for my dissertation. I am still deciding what I want to focus on in my dissertation, but I know the topics I want to look at and discuss. I wan to focus on a social value, but feel my ideas have been read as monetary value, which I don’t think there is much scope to create a discussion as it is not something that could be discussed easily. I want to continue to look at value, but from reading texts by Peter Bürger I think that a focus on autonomy is more relevant to my practice as a Maker student.
After the first term, constellation changed and we were asked to start thinking about themes and topics to study for dissertations and also the type of dissertation to be completed. Currently, I am hoping to complete the artefact and text style, as I believe that the topics I am now looking at relate to my practice.
Deciding on a topic to start to research for my dissertation was a long process. I began with the idea of looking into the commercialisation of art and the crossover into design. The influence of this was the Field module I was taking part in at the time, “Limited Edition.” Previous interests from my art foundation in Pop Art and collections and multiples of artefacts resurfaced and I was able to build on these. Being a part of the Maker course means that you are often asked to define yourself and your practice, this is something that has also influenced further research and the idea I am currently exploring. Whether the way that you define yourself as an artist limits your potential or adds value to your work is something of interest to me. In this context I am learning more about the avant-garde and historical references leading to a social change in the art community and why it is separate from everyday society.
This year has enabled me to realise how my practice can influence my interests in theory, as the option I chose last year for constellation didn’t really inform my practice and became something I struggled to relate to. It has allowed me to revisit some of my earlier works before I began my degree and the influences I explored. These are now very relevant to the work I am producing.
At the beginning of the year I chose Theo’s option, which looked at the idea of humour in art and design. I chose this because some of the works I create are unusual and are different to what they may first appear. I enjoy making works that surprise or delight the onlooker. Starting with the basics of what makes things funny was interesting. I decided towards the end of the module that my work isn’t necessarily about making people laugh, it is more about the ability to do something unexpected. I enjoy making interactive pieces, so looking at product design examples was helpful.
The presentation I created at the end of the module was on the topic of the theory we had explored and how it relates to my practice. I chose to analyse a project I did in the first year. The brief was “Cabinet of Curiosities;” I chose to create a collection of forks using as many different processes and materials as I could manage. The end piece meant I had a drawer, a part of a cabinet; that looked at the usability of the works I had created. There was also a short set of videos to accompany the works. I believe the works created an unexpected experience. This relates to the theory I had been looking at relating the incongruity theory of humour and the interactivity in my work.
I found this module interesting, yet it turned out to carry little relevance to my work since the first term, as I have not used any of the theory in other parts of my work. I have been more focused on the interactivity and creating things that can change in different environments. I also seem to be more concerned with the status of my practice and where it fits; it is not design yet not wholly art. I have been making pieces to express these tensions, such as the bronze cast and laser cut wooden light box.