This year in Constellation I have had the opportunity to learn a lot of different things that I had not given that much consideration before in both keynote lectures and also through two study groups that I could choose.
The first study group I ended up with was called ‘Things Could Be Otherwise’. This was a study group focused on philosophy. I hadn’t really done philosophy before so I was interested in what it would be like. I found this study group interesting, especially when discussing technology because I am interested in how people interact and live with increasingly smarter technologies such as mobile phones. Admittedly I found some of the required reading a little bit heavy but I still enjoyed looking into the ideas.
Whilst none of the topics we covered were directly linked with my practice, I found that by attending these sessions, I learned how to form better arguments for not only my writing, but when discussing my work and defending certain choices I choose to make.
I also found that when we discussed what drawing is, I was able to open my mind a bit when it came to my attitude towards what drawing is and how I draw. This has led to me being more willing to experiment with how I draw. However I didn’t agree with everything that was said about drawing but I that’s fine because I knew how to structure an argument around why I didn’t always agree.
When it came to the first essay, I decided to write about Asmovian robo-ethics. This was centred around the idea of The Three Laws of Robotics that Isaac Asimov devised in his many works, most notably I, Robot. I found this to be a really difficult essay to do because I couldn’t find much in the way of academic sources. This meant that I ended up sourcing forum sites such as Quora which isn’t really ideal.
The other main problem I had was that I found it extremely difficult to streamline the essay to just answering one question. I ended up asking lots of questions and trying to find answers to them all. I suppose this comes with the territory since the subject of Artificial Intelligence is so big, but I should have been more aware of what I was writing about and which question I was actually going to set out and answer. I think writing that essay was very useful because, for one, it got me wiring in an academic way which is good practice but it also made me become more aware of what I was writing and making sure everything I wrote had a purpose.
The last problem I had with that essay was that it was way over the word limit. This is because I was being too ‘illustrative’ with my words rather than being straight to the point. I have definitely learned from that since my second essay is under the word limit.
The second study group I had was sustainable practices. This study group felt more immediately relevant to me than my first study group. First off I learned about the history behind the unsustainable society we have today. I found that by going through this, it was easier to understand why we think and consume the way we do today.
I also learned about what the ‘sustainability landscape’ is today and the difficulties facing people who are trying to change it. This made me think about what I should be thinking about in my own practice. I don’t consider my practice to be very sustainable at all, the things that I am interested in can be very textile and plastic heavy and through researching my essay and going to the sessions, I was able to get a better sense of the damage and the impact of what I was using for materials.
I feel as though doing sustainable practices has made me aware of a huge problem that my practice has. I am interested in costumes and props and that kind of thing but they’re extremely unsustainable. These tend to use a lot of textiles and plastics and electricity for machines etc. The problem is that they consume a lot of resources but they have a limited usage and aren’t worn again after they’ve served their purpose. I’m mentioning this because one of the things we were discussing is the longevity of items and how willing people are to discard what they have and I think the costume/props area is the same way albeit for different reasons.
Doing this study group has also made me realise that I need to be responsible with the things that I am making and putting into the world. By this I mean that in order to encourage more sustainable behaviours, I should make my objects long wearing and as useful as possible.
I also think that my essay writing has improved a lot. I had done my best to use the advice given by my previous regarding being more concise or answering only one question in the essay. In doing that I was able to be within the word limit this time.
I also had a tutorial with my tutor and we went over a draft of my sustainability essay which was helpful because I learned I had gotten my referencing muddled up so I was able to later fix that. It was also good because I had learned of a few weird turns of phrases I had used. This is a bad habit of mine since I tend to write as I talk which is not really appropriate for academic writing and so some of my sentences my read a little strangely at times. I have also been able to correct these.
Overall my first year of constellation has been good, whilst there were some lectures I found more interesting than others I was able to find things that have helped both my writing and my practice.