Constellation – Self Reflective Blog Post

During my first year, Constellation helped me to extend my knowledge of art history and allowed me to think about psychological theories, such as cognitive development, in a creative. This year I chose to study ‘Garbage Pails and Giddy Cunning: Medium Specificity, Differential Specificity’ with Barnaby Dicker. Although, I did not have the slightest clue what the time meant, it intrigued me and so did the description. “Ultimately, medium specificity and differential specificity seek to capture recurring, potentially opposing, factors in the production and discourses of art and design. Members of the group may come to critically advocate one over the other or attempt to reconcile the two.” I was looking forward to looking at what factors went into analytically critiquing art & design.

During the study group I found the reading given to be very helpful in understanding the topic. Even though, sometimes the text did not talk about art & design in particular, I found it easy to understand by replacing any noun by the word ‘art’. For example, in the text Internet Radio: a Case Study in Medium Specificity the quote “we comfortably refer to the telephone as ‘the telephone’ when we use it for talking. When we use it to send faxes, we identity the medium as ‘the fax'” can be translated, when looking at art, into: “we comfortably refer to a photograph as ‘a photograph’ when using it in its conventional sense, to capture a moment in time. But when we use it to convey a concept we can identify it as an art medium. This shows how the specificity of the medium can change how we look at something.

Another piece of text we looked at in the study group was a piece called Reading Capital: From Capitol to Marx’s Philosophy. When reading the text in the study group, the quote “we must abandon the mirror myths of immediate vision and reading, and conceive knowledge as a production” which stuck out for me as a way of saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I said this during the group which sparked a mall debate with others but ultimately people thought similar to me. Barnaby explained that most of the things we were to talk about could be simplified back to this statement as we were being made to think about how medium and difference effected how we see pieces of work. In this instance I like to think of the cover to be how a piece of work is made, what physical form it takes and what material went into making it and the book to be the concept of the piece. Is there a direct correlation between the two? Does the cover give you enough insight into the book or just a brief overview?

Looking back, I can see that I could have used some points of discussion when looking at differential and medium specificity to support my debate on the boundary between art and craft. I should have looked back at thoughts I had in my previous study group and not treated it as something completely separate. If I had gone over old readings before moving onto new arguments I would have have more of a revised argument and had more philosophical arguments to support my own. The argument between differential and medium specificity is important when looking at my proposal for my dissertation, especially medium specificity as this is sometimes what defines the two.

I feel that, although it is a different part of the course, my Field topic Art & the Conscious Mind helped me along with my Constellation work as it made me think deeper about the connection between art and the artwork. The artist is the one who consciously and specifically decide on medium and the differential so therefore create this argument in the first place. It was interesting to look at how we would make conscious decision.

When covering the views on where the ‘self’ ends, I started to think about how actions and things we put in the world can be remembered so if this idea of a ‘soul’ exists then parts of the soul would be in the things we put into the world and how other people and there souls react to us and this adds to their ‘self’. I feel that artwork is a powerful example of this because an artist takes the time to create this extensions of them self, most of the time based on their views, emotions and experiences (what can made the ‘self’. This piece of work/self is then put into the world for someone else to experience, take in and add whatever they took from that certain piece of work to their ‘self’. Even then, there is still a question of when the self ends because when does the art end? Is the art continued through people’s experiences? The memory of the experience? Conversation containing the topic of the artwork? A photograph or article of the work that is shared throughout the internet?

From an artist perspective, artwork is a reaction to us being aware of ourselves, this is especially the case for self portraits. If I was to paint a exact portrait of myself, this would show how I am aware of my physical self, however, if I was to create a more abstract piece of work that represents my ‘self’ this is showing I am aware of all the things that create my ‘self’. For example, Tracey Emin’s bed tells a story of her history, experiences and reveals the emotions she was feeling at the time through the objects she has chosen to be a part of the work. They are not just physical things but are a symbol for an emotion or experience.


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