The two different topics that I studied during the first year of Constellation have been quite challenging to link to my subject – especially Things Can be Otherwise. However, after completing both modules, I think I enjoyed this one much more as it was completely different to my study content-wise, as well as being unlike anything that I have ever learned or researched before.
There have been many more obvious links to my second subject of After Modernism. This is as it has helped me broaden my research by allowing me to discuss famous and important pieces of artwork and their significance within culture, philosophy and society. Looking at artwork that wasn’t just graphic design reminded me that I could find inspiration anywhere – not just in work directly related to my practice. However, I found the reading material quite hard to read as it seemed quite opinionated. Whilst studying my second topic, I began to understand the significance of the first, and links started to become clearer between both Constellation subjects. Unfortunately, I was still not able to uncover that many links between Subject and Constellation. This changed after a talk from Martyn Woodward about the different ways Constellation and Subject link, and that if one of the subjects that we study doesn’t appear to link, it’s not an issue. Another key point from that conversation was that constellation is about exploring different ideas and themes and becoming aware of not only design and art-related things, but important worldwide topics. At this point, my attitude towards Constellation as a whole began to change – I began to see it as a way of collecting more ideas and further research to support my practice.
One of the biggest things that I struggled with during both constellation subjects was reading the academic texts; more often than not, these articles, journals, and book extracts contained lots of academic language, long sentences and lots of themes, with the ideas all intermingled and usually from a perspective with a certain opinion or agenda. I have found it difficult to grasp what the piece of writing is talking about and which the important parts are that I should be quoting to use for the essay, as well as to link them to my practice. Trying to figure out this problem led me to trying lots of different techniques and ways to read the texts. Firstly, I would find the page relevant to what I was researching, then highlight the important information and, then try and link it with my own practice. I found that printing out the information and physically getting rid of information that isn’t important allowed me to focus on the main points or themes within a piece of writing, however this is more time-consuming than simply reading the article. I have also found that summarizing the points in each paragraph can help me to understand what it is that the writer is trying to convey. When it comes to retaining the information, I have found that in the text I researched in the first term, it was better for me to write up the notes I had already made to refresh my memory and reacquaint myself with the topics that we’d covered in the lectures. I found that this could become time-consuming as my notes were sometimes jumbled up or not cohesively stored, so I sometimes found myself to struggle. To fix this I went back over the slides from the lectures whilst writing up notes to try and match the notes to the individual lecture’s content. When it came to using this information to plan my essay, I realised I had large gaps in the actual content of the essay. I think next year I definitely need to work harder in creating more-focused notes and information, which will ultimately make it much easier to gather all of my ideas to write the Constellation essay. Doing this will also enable me to organise my ideas, and if the ideas are organised I believe I will find it much easier to see the threads between key ideas in Constellation and the ideas in my practice. After studying both topics I have realised I could have done more to understand the topics, and in the future, I realise I need to put more effort in to actively doing my own research around the topic as well as the provided work, such as the reading for the lecture. The ultimate meaning of this is that I need to become more self-motivated when it comes to Constellation in order to keep on top of the work load and ensure that I am fully-prepared for the actual writing of the essays themselves.
During my first year of study at university, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, which explains the problems I had been having with sorting information and organising my work both in general and the more academic-based work that constellation entails. Now that I am beginning to get help and support from the student services team, I feel less anxious and stressed about tackling the essay. The support will be in place for my second year of study and I feel more optimistic about, instead of dreading, the more academic, text-based work as I have done this year. Most importantly, the struggle with the type of work carried out during Constellation prompted me to seek help from student services in finding out why I was experiencing what felt like enormous difficulties in completing Constellation work and the amount of stress and pressure I felt as a result of struggling with it. Similar difficulties didn’t tend to arise as often in my graphic communication practice, which is a very visual topic, with most communication with peers and tutors being verbal instead of written. This means that I am able to take this information down in a way that suits me, so having to work with large texts and collating ideas acted to highlight the problems I was facing, and so I was able to seek help for them. Once I have all the tools recommended by the disability advisors, I feel I will be able to organise and become a lot more efficient and effective in my written work, and not feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to complete an essay and be able to coherently communicate the ideas I want to.