WEEK 1 – CONSTELLATION: SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

Student Led Task

Working individually, please complete the following task by next week’s session (1st of February)

Undertake research to identify 1 example of professional art and design practice that reflects sustainability characteristics.

Please present the following information as a single A4 page Word document.

  • An image of the artefact.
  • A short written statement (no more than 100 words in total) describing:

                 I. The artefact, the individual / company that created it.

                 II. Why you think this is a good example of sustainable practice.

Please bring the above with you on a device (Smartphone, tablet or laptop) to the session on the 1st of February.’

Not ideal for the 1st week. Luckily, being a proactive individual, I have already purchased an item from the company I wish to discuss.

RAPANUI:

‘Sustainable Fashion’

Our purpose is to redesign the clothing industry. Through design and technology we make clothing more sustainable.

We’re from the Isle of Wight in the UK, and we started our company in a garden shed with £200 and an ambition: Redesign the clothing industry to be more sustainable. That was in 2008. Times have changed and thankfully, so have our business premises: Our values and purpose is still the same. We make our products from more sustainable materials like Organic Cotton. Most of our work in the first few years of our brand was in helping customersunderstand where clothing comes from and how it’s made. You can scan the code inside every product we make and find out more info about its origins.

We also believe that the future of fashion is a circular economy, so when you’re done, you can send old products back to us and cash in the material for store credit.

From the early days, there’s been renewable energy in our supply chain. Now, our main supplier of organic cotton has its own wind farm, and our UK factory is powered entirely by renewables, mostly on-site solar. That part of the story, our own factory, is where most of our our work is focused now. We’re developing advanced manufacturing techniques to massively reduce waste and these improved efficiencies are making more sustainable fashion increasingly competitive.

Throughout we’ve sought to work with responsible suppliers that do things the right way. As well as being a Global Organic Textile Standard certified company ourselves, independent auditors inspect our overseas supply chain for a wide range of social and sustainability criteria. We don’t just rely on audits, we visit factories personally. That’s what responsible fashion means to us.

We also believe that more sustainable clothing should be accessible to anyone. The problems concern all of us, and consumers and businesses must work together to solve the problems in the world. So we asked what we can do to make our supply chain more accessible. As well as printing certified organic t-shirts in bulk for other brands, we’re developing new cloud-based technologies for startups to access our supply chain. What took us ten years now takes the next generation of brands 10 minutes at Teemill.com

Looking back at the shed, we’ve achieved a fair bit. But it feels like we’re only really just started working on the real game changers. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy our products for the next 10 as we continue our mission, to make fashion more sustainable.

This is the company’s story, which I was instantly sold by. We live in a world which is vastly overpopulated by Homo Sapiens, and I think it is each one of our moral duties to forward think about our consumer habits.

I have always loved a good quality Merino Wool Jumper, but in recent years have been put off by the unethical and eco un-friendly production morals and values adopted/carried out by most companies.

Men's-Winter-Wool-Bundle_13624285_480xauto

On this occasion I even decided to purchase a RAPANUI WINTER BUNDLE, including a hat and scarf. Amazingly I was able to access the ‘traceability’ and supply chain journey via a Video on their website:

The NAVY MERINO WOOL JUMPER is a fantastic winter wardrobe staple for the man/woman that likes to explore and adventure outdoors. Relaxed fit, crew neck jumper. Knitted and finished in Britain using 100% merino lambswool, spun in Yorkshire. Wash at 30 degrees and dry flat.

SUPPLY CHAIN:

WOOL CO-OPERATIVE, WA – Australian Wool is shipped to the UK from Western Australia. Australian wool is far easier to produce at the finer, more lustrous quality needed for garments due to the climate and conditions. However, with clever use of British wool, it’s possible to make products of a comparable quality – this is why the focus now is on developing our British wool products and supply chain.

SHIPPING – Shipping Route, Perth to Southampton. Our carbon-reduction efforts include cutting out airfrieght and so  the products come by boat instead. It’s helped to lower our Co2 Emissions by 80% overall.

HQ – Rapanui is based in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, where we design and ship your orders. We’re also recognised as one of the UK’s top social enterprises – and not just because of our environmental work. Our business has developed an apprenticeship curriculum that has created 17 full time careers for previously unemployed young Islanders. Your purchase is helping us continue to make things better, and make better things.

Although I have not yet received my WINTER BUNDLE, I feel that this is a company i will be purchasing from again. The main reason why I love the idea of this company has to be it’s transparent moral and ethical code; giving the power to the consumer about where the product comes from, it’s supply chain, shipping method and manufacture allows me as individual to think about my carbon footprint. Not only that, it makes me feel proud to  contribute towards a greener future.

P.S Fantastic that it is also a UK based company!!!

CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS PDP/LEARNING JOURNAL

What is the definition of constellation? It could be many a thing, but in terms of academic study I believe it to be the idea that brings together a group or configuration of ideas, feelings, characteristics and objects, that are related in some way. I like to think of this area of study as being likened to the stars; an interconnectedness of all matter, sharing the same building blocks necessary for life as we know it.

When I was allocated ‘THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS, I thought it prudent to familiarise myself the terminology of ‘meshwork’, and what it was I was expected to learn. Is it a network fabric or structure, a space or interstice between the strand of a net or sieve, a network, an interlacing structure, an engagement with others, harmony, or an entanglement of ideas? Simply put, it is all of these.

In the first week, Jacqui, my tutor, introduced me to a new way of thinking through subjects; the overall consensus of my constellation subject was to learn how to look. John Berger came highly recommended for specific academic research material. As a hugely influential art critic, novelist, painter and poet, his essay/book on art criticism, Ways of Seeing, represents a more traditionalist view of the Western artistic and cultural society, and criticizes Western cultural aesthetics, raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. Having read the book, I now consider my eyes and mind well and truly open to all the wondrous stimuli within my surrounding environment, and subsequently know this has made me aware of the importance of learning how to look. ‘An artist’s duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany’ (Nick Cave, Musician)

 For me, one of the most significant elements of Constellation was finding out how important it is, as a creative practitioner, to explore many academic disciplines or professional specializations in an approach to a topic or problem, which in turn analyses and harmonises links between disciplines into a coordinated/coherent whole. Previously, I did not always question how important it was to adopt a transdisiplinary approach to my own studies. This new understanding gave me the confidence to reach out, and make contact with another creative practitioner I had admired for months. Michelle Griffiths is the UK Shibori representative for UK and Ireland. My enthusiasm and dedication in wanting to learn new ideas and techniques won Michelle over, and I can proudly announce that I am now under her mentorship. Concurrently our collaboration is weaving a meshwork of new and exciting techniques within my own practice.

Why is it so important to think outside the box? Why is it imperative to cross-discipline with other designers/makers? Sharing knowledge, best practice, Networking, stepping out of your comfort zone, the birth of new ideas, a sense of community, remaining fresh as a designer, gaining new perspectives and skills, being exposed to new technological advances and breaking down societal and cultural barriers are just a few of the incredible reasons why it is so important to open your mind and practice. Always be reflective, critical and discerning. Provoke new kinds of concerns & questioning.

Armed with this new and powerful understanding, what was it that I was now supposed to document, process and organise what I found around me? What is the art of curating? What defines The Meshwork of an Object? How do I present and communicate the object? What does it mean? What is the overarching theme? What does it underpin? What are the relationships between each other? Are they real? Can they be observed? Or are they non-material/invisible? This skill would allow me to challenge ideas and create my own context within my won work; curating a meshwork of objects to initiate a new and exciting visual language for each and every one of us to interpret.

“We begin to confront the ‘thingness’ of objects when they stop working for us: when the drill breaks, when the car stalls, when the windows get filthy, when their flow within circuits of production and distribution, consumption and exhibition have been arrested, however momentarily”. (Brown, 2001). This quote resonated so strongly throughout my Constellation journey that it shaped my concept for my essay. The credit however cannot be solely taken by Bill Brown, but also by the concept/ideology behind Structural Materialist Films, and the academic short essay ‘The Ontology of the Accident’ (Malibou, 2012). The concept behind SMF does not want to document a narrative, but rather want you, as the viewer to think for yourself. The director (me) wants the viewer to acknowledge the installation/exhibit as a thing, an independent material that prioritises form over content. The onus is on the viewer to create their own narrative, de-programme, de-preconceive, and become an active part in which they are viewing. In layman terms, it encourages you, no….demands you to think.

Having had an abiding love, since childhood, for Nature, I have developed a parallel enthusiasm for the visual and plastic arts, especially Textile Design. The concept/idea outlined within my essay focused on my own personal struggles living with a chronic illness/disability, and the increasing problems I felt affecting myself, and the ecosystem we depend upon. The installation/concept that I curated examined the link between the respiratory issues associated with M.E, and the atmospheric pollution that increasingly affects our towns and cities. Malibou has described the process I have undertaken. She calls on readers to envisage their own possible accident, the transformation that can leave an individual numb, dumb, disorientated, and departed. Malibou expertly illustrates how “In the usual order of things, lives run their course like rivers. The changes and metamorphosis of a life due to vagaries and difficulties, or simply the natural unfolding of circumstance…In time, one eventually becomes who one is, one becomes only who one is”. Having experienced living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 10 years, I have significantly developed an ability to relish learning new and exciting knowledge, techniques, processes and ways of seeing. I use my ‘accident’ as a way to justify my existence. After all, most people live life never quite willing to accept the accident that can transform them too.

Referencing

Brown, B. (2001). Thing Theory. Critical Inquiry, 28(1), pp.1-22.

Malibou, C. (2012) ‘Ontology of the Accident’, ‘An Essay on Destructive Plasticity’. Pg.10.

Cave, N. (Year Unknown) https://brainyquote.com/quotes/nick_cave_187032

Structural Materialist Film; an experimental film movement prominent in the United States in the 1960s and which developed into the Structural/Materialist films in the United Kingdom in the 1970s

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 7 – CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS/PRESS RELEASE

Imagine a world in which your actions and ideas can have a strong impact on how other view themselves, their families and their environment.

The city of London is proud to present works by Vaughan Thomas: ‘Thinking outside the box’ 2018. This, the artists’ first major exhibition, will be on view from 4th January -8th March 2018 at various cites in Oxford Street, London. The interactive hub presents a fusion of cutting edge technology with constructed textiles and other mixed media. Consisting of a number of transparent tubes placed upon plinths and supported by a variety of audio and visual sources, these structures contain a meshwork on wire and woven fabric, simulating the bones, muscles, tissues and cartilage of the chest cavity that facilitates breathing.

Materials utilise a range of fabrics and sensors, able to respond to airborne pollutants, by changing colour, shape or tone. The internal structures using rubber airbags, used by anaesthetists, are connected to the outside of the tubes by a corrugated tube, the trachea, linked to an intermittent air pump that inflates or deflates ‘the lungs’. The air filters, changed at regular intervals, indicate the level of pollutants present in the surrounding the installation.

Vaughan’s interest in textiles and the environment have grown from his love of the natural world and from his struggle with chronic illness. In this work, he aims to explore and develop the concept that by our unthinking greed and extravagance, we are destroying the very things that sustain our lives. Through this work, the artist will endeavour to explore the contradictions inherent in our consumerist society and the negative effects that our over-consumption of the Earth’s resources are having on our environment, our health and ultimately the survival of the species. The toxic fumes pumped into our atmosphere by our factories, power stations, lorries, busses and cars are slowly killing us. Air pollution is now a major cause of death in our towns and cities. The installation or information hub will use technologies and constructed textiles to highlight these vital issues.

 

WEEK 6 – CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS

IN THIS SESSION……..Breaking down language/deciphering words

‘Now that you have learned how to read (interpret mentally, convert or be able to convert into; to deduce or declare, by following symbols with eyes or fingers), deconstruct (method of critical analysis of philosophical or literary language), and decode (convert into intelligible language) objects presented to you in an institution (museum), you will learn how to reverse engineer (turn the other was around; arrangements, plans, organisations, those things you wish to orchestrate or contrive) this process by writing a proposal to curate (construct) an exhibition/screening/display around an object (a material thing that can be seen or touched, or something that can be sought after/aimed at for a specific purpose) of your choice’.

This will lead to a 2000 word essay – in which you will apply what you have leaned in these sessions to conceive (think, imagine, fancy, formulate, express, form in the mind) your own curatorial project, relate to your own practice and expand some of the researched theoretical concepts.

cube100-2

Reading through the brief, I decided to break down my responses into a number of headings/questions:

WHAT OBJECT OR CONCEPT DO I WISH TO CURATE/DISPLAY/OPEN TO DISCUSSION?

WHAT MESSAGE DO I WISH TO CONVEY TO THE VIEWER/PARTICIPANT/AUDIENCE?

HOW AM I GOING TO GO ABOUT THIS?

HOW IS THIS TO BE RELATED TO MY OWN WORK/PRACTICE?

Possible introductions/titles to my curatorial idea/concept….

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

*My initial reaction when presented with the brief was one of panic, confusion and doubt, but eventually a determination to understand and assimilate new concepts and ways of looking……..’things are what we encounter, ideas are what we project’ Leo Stein, The A-B-C of Aesthetics (New York, 1927), p.44

*Phenomenology is a philosophical doctrine proposed by Edmund Husserl based on the study of human experience in which consideration of objective reality are not taken into account.

*Hierarchy of objects: display a number together without a specific light source; remove number of objects, leaving just one or two, and subject to spotlighting.

OR……Could I begin my essay with a quote?

‘WE BEGIN TO CONFRONT THE “THINGNESS” OF OBJECTS WHEN THEY STOP WORKING FOR US: WHEN THE DRILL BREAKS, WHEN THE CAR STALLS, WHEN THE WINDOWS GET FILTHY, WHEN THEIR FLOW WITHIN CIRCUITS OF PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION AND EXHIBITION HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, HOWEVER MOMENTARILY’. Bill Brown, Thing Theory, Critical Inquiry Vol 28, No.1, Things, Page.4, 2001.

The above quotation, taken from Bill Brown’s ‘Thing Theory’ resonates strongly with the problems I encounter of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and how this affects my everyday life (especially my lungs/respiration.

 

WEEK 5 – CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS

Showcased our group’s 10 minute Powerpoint Presentation. 4 out of 7 (within my group) people contributed to our idea, which in turn is pretty poor. Nevertheless, we were able to convey potent, and relevant contextual research within the artefact/room we had chosen to curate. All my personal research is contained within the Week 4 blog.

museum-methodology

Jacqui suggested we look at the terminology of the word Methodology (museum), so I googled it and transcribed it as follows:

‘Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge.’

http://www.madesignstudios.co.uk/museum-methodology.

http://www.mapping-museum-experience.com/en/about-project/methodology

What preparations/questions are to be made/put forward, as a designer/artist/maker, before setting up an exhibition?
• To what extent does a change in the location of an object change its attraction in relation to the space?
• To what extent does a change in the pathways change behavior in space?
• To what extent does a change in the pathways change the viewing of exhibits and the moment of ˝becoming art˝?
• To what extent does knowledge about a work change its effect?
• Does one only see what one knows, or can a work be understood autonomously?
• Does information distract or does it steer one towards art?
• What role does placement have as a generator of meaning?
• What effect do curatorial concepts have?
• What effect does a staging of the semiological interaction between the exhibited objects and the meaningfulness of the location?

These questions are all fundamental if one is to understand the purpose of translating an idea through the pathway of an object, and how it interacts/relates/finds purpose with the viewer and it’s environment.

 

WEEK 4 – CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 17.54.58Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 17.55.45Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 17.56.02

Where do I begin on this project? Well, let’s begin with what my group gravitated towards at the Museum. As soon as we walked in, a red sign immediately caught our attention; red, apparently is the first colour we, as humans, are programmed to see. I believe it is a way in which we can differentiate between danger and safety.

The Clore Discovery Centre previously was formerly Glanely Gallery, but with a generous donation from the Clore Duffield Foundation was transferred into the Discovery Centre. It became a fantastic opportunity to experience firsthand part of the 7.5million strong collection of The National Museum of Cardiff. The Centre invites tactile participation and exploration, which are usually prohibited. The room offers a multi-sensory approach to education and learning; children being the main objective. Children’s curiosity towards the world around them is unparalleled, being able to let them enquire and research in their own unique way let’s them build their own narrative and construct their own identity. Children are encouraged to learn, play and study their surroundings, but why does the archaic educational system take joy in unlearning all of the wonderful characteristics which would make them all question and think for themselves?

Interactivity, resources, knowledge, activities, performances, demonstrations and exhibitions are all part of the experience of The Clore Discovery Centre. A definitive narrative is left at the door, and we are invited to make our own choices, interpretations and experience things in our own individual way. How we choose to engage with the subject matter can be dictated by narrative and the information in front of us, this is why a room such as this is a welcome edition to a world saturated with everything chosen for us; there is scope to think, experience and create.

Concessions for entertainment allow scope for families to bond and learn together. If these concessions were removed, what context would the room serve? Would it become child unfriendly? Would the room stagnate and become unfit for purpose? Surely a centre such as this would lose it’s ability to tell it’s story. What narrative would be told by informing us of everything? Taking away visual stimuli, and replacing them solely with written text and monotone information; how would this affect the intended audience? Imagination should be encouraged, not destroyed. The centre does not have a material property as such, but all objects can be touched, bringing us back to the physical material characteristics of texture, shape and form.

This exercise absolutely exhausted me, my CFS has been exacerbated terribly by this Constellation subject. On a plus note, after exiting The Clore Discovery Centre, I was awaited by some of the curators, artists, scientists and museum staff. I chatted to a lovely gentleman called Julian Carter, who works in the Department of Biodiversity & Systematic Biology @ The National Museum of Wales as a Conservation Officer. He demonstrated some of the incredible images that can be obtained from an Electron Microscope, my interest was piqued immediately. The images had the most phenomenal textile quality to them; sheer scope for inspiration is mind boggling. Julian was kind enough to give me his personal Business card and told me to contact him if ever I wanted to work in conjunction with him on numerous scientific and biological collections:

julian.carter@museumwales.ac.uk or http://www.museumwales.ac.uk

To top off this incredible find, I walked up to a table of cameras ranging from the early 20th Century to modern day and encountered some incredible photographic images showcasing the processes of photogram, lumen and saltwater photography. Vicky was happy to chat about her alternative methods of documenting subject matter without the focus of using an actual camera. I was blown away by the impact, but simplicity of the images in front of me.

Vicky is currently studying an MA in Photographic Practices, although she had no business cards to give me as of yet, she did give me her e-mail address as correspondence:

Vicky.Rob@hotmail.co.uk

I will contact her to arrange a meeting, so she can tell/show me in more detail the processes involved in this incredibly textural type of photography. Watch this space, again.

WEEK 3 – CONSTELLATION: THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS

The Mediated Objected in the Museum.

What is CONTEXT? ‘The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood/the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify it’s meaning’ Exert from Dictionary.com

Jacqui wants us to begin to understand/challenge the context of our own individual disciplines, but her questioning was a little muddy. Could I clarify her method of questioning by looking at synonyms of the word itself?

Context – surroundings, situation, environment, setting, background, scene, climate, atmosphere, ambience, mood, feel, factors, conditions etc.

Does this mean that I have to explain the reason why I am choosing to study Textile design? Are my surroundings responsible for the type of designer I wish to become?  Are certain situations responsible for the person I am? What factors have been a source within history to make the practice as it stands today? Am I relevant?

How can I interpret my source material to create something in context? How do I go about standing myself apart from everybody else? Are multi-sensory experiences important? Are they necessary to create? I have found a way to exploit a single-sensory method of working…….TOUCH DRAWINGS (Omitting sight), AUDIO DRAWINGS (Omitting real subject matter/replacing with non-material subject), SMELL DRAWING (Omitting touch/sight/sound). This is not a new phenomenon, but how I choose to interpret and experience it is.

Sandra

Our first task was to read a paragraph from a book called MUSEUM OBJECTS: Experiencing the Properties of Things by Sandra H. Dudley (Page 5). If I looked away could I write out the author’s idea? Would I need to look up words that I did not recognise? Paraphrasing. Taking an idea of another and re-interpreting it in my own language so not to plagiarise.

The truthful answer was No, I found it rather difficult to remember the idea at all. What I could clearly remember was the basic premise of things being physical and non-physical. Material characteristics of things and it’s relationship to sensory experience describe texture, shape, colour and density but when looking at non-material objects within a museum/material culture context these often do not have a fixed 3-D material form such as digital images, songs or dance performances.

Objects and things are interchangeable and can have distinct and opposite meanings according to Bill Brown and Hood and Santos.

Bill Brown – Thing Theory (2001) & Hood and Santos – Psychological Object Theory (2009). What on earth is Psychological Object Theory?  A psyche developed in childhood in relation to environment. Patterns in this early developmental stage can be restructured by later experiences, but these ‘objects’ wield strong influences throughout life.

What defines an object within my own practice? What is it’s purpose/function? For example, what is the purpose of wallpaper? Not only is it decorative, but it covers a plain and uninteresting wall. Is it’s purpose to employ a cohesive room with which to bond other elements of design? What would the design and colour suggest? Is it purely aesthetic or can we dig deeper? How do we interpret and experience? Do we experience wallpaper as a material and non-material object? The idea to create and make are both the same and opposite. Non-material objects are the ideas we have and material objects become the process of making.

Where does value lie in objects? Is this what ‘we’ as humans project on the object? How is it’s worth calculated? What factors make it so valuable?

Take for example a meteor, how can it possibly be valued? It being outside the system of value (otherworldly). Systems of classification are imposed and  value attributed via a narrative, date and contextual history. Rarity (Supply & Demand), colour, aesthetics and malleability all attribute to the value of an object.

If we look at what museums do to objects and how they are taken out of context and put into an institution, we begin to realise that the displays are never neutral, but rather curated to make the individual/viewer think. How do we interpret? Imagine a museum without labels or a narrative, there would be no sense of accuracy. Interpretation is a wonderful idea, but can be exploited to create fantasy; objects can be ambiguous, they are slippery and not fixed. How can an object be elevated in status or value? Can it be framed or put on a plinth? Does this automatically make it more special? Is this a prime example of humans creating a hierarchical structure where they are at the centre?

How do I curate a chosen object? Find out it’s history. This is necessary for the job to be completed properly. Photograph it. Why am I drawn to it? How is it relative to my practice? These will all be explored next week when I choose my one object @ The National Museum, Cardiff.