With a swift start to level 5 regarding all three modules (subject, constellation, and field), studying Goddesses and Monsters, as part of the study group I decided to join for constellation, has introduced me to a new and deeper way of thinking about how I apply theory to my practice and what impact the work I design and create may have on people’s lifestyles. By gaining further knowledge to what I had learned from my constellation study groups last year, it has prepared me to think more carefully about what I want to concentrate on for my dissertation research proposal this year in preparation for my dissertation to write in my third and final year at CSAD.
Recently I completed a branding project titled ‘On Display’ as part of the subject module where I was required to create a brand identity for an exhibition I was to comprise. It was difficult to apply theory I had been given from Goddesses and Monsters to this project. I created the identity for an exhibition themed on Brutalist Architecture in London. Instead of creating a logo that could connotate glamour, I instead included connotations of construction and the monstrosity of brutalist architecture and ‘raw concrete’. I used these connotations in interesting ways in my project by transforming the image of brutalist architecture into something more delightful and pleasing to look at. By using the minimalist form of construction lines and by being influenced by Lego, I created a logo that was both beautiful, disguising the monstrous nature of brutalist architecture. This was shown through the design of the poster, wayfinding, signage, and most importantly the animated adaptation of the logo. This project was important in helping me understand how architecture could be perceived as beautiful or monstrous. It allowed me to transform something I wasn’t particularly fond of into something I really liked the design of by incorporating different styles into one identity that worked stunningly across all the visuals I had designed, and certainly the possibility for more. This combination of styles was supported perfectly by what I had learned last year in the constellation module as part of the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ study group, regarding bricolage by mixing styles from different era’s together.
I now needed to take on my project for Field. The project I chose for the first term of Field was titled ‘Circle Line‘. We were required to create an experimental documentary that documented all the senses and features of nature and the surrounding landscape of Cardiff, which included a trip to Pontypridd on the train and a visit to Bethesda Chapel in Ton Pentre. Circle Line represented the journey of going to these places on the train. Instead of looking at the beauty of human beings we were looking at the beauty of the landscape and the possible pollution and monstrosity that humans have bestowed upon nature. When visiting Bethesda Chapel we were struck upon the mishmash and chaos of the objects that had been thrown to waste within the chapel. As much as it was interesting it triggered a multitude of uncomfortable thoughts concerning what lay beneath the historical items, whether it was old posters, prints, photographs, cards, broken instruments, tools, and so much more. Many of these old pieces of junk had been put back to use. a craftsman who found junk in the chapel had repurposed their use to create sculptures of animals. For example, an elephant had been made out of bicycle chains, dustbin covers for the ears and various other pieces of junk. It reminded me of what I had studied last year in Smells Like Teen Spirit, with finding new meanings and uses in objects. The benefit of producing an experimental documentary would allow me to look beyond making things so obvious to the human eye, which is what I was used to as part of my practice in most cases. The ability to create new ways of seeing things would allow me to expand my mind. By allowing abstract art and design to come together through photography, video, and sound I could see how beauty and monstrosity could mix or become neither.
For my critical essay, I have explored how photography and paintings have changed our perception of beauty and perfection over the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and what we should deem as reliable and as true to human nature form. I decided to relate to photography because of how graphic design deals with such vast amounts of photography and film. As a hobby of mine, I feel it was suitable to discuss how my practice can change people’s lifestyles for better or for worse as technology is developing to manipulate images better than ever before or made possible. It is up to designers like myself to change the face of brands or even create new faces and new ways of seeing things.
Trailing back to Goddesses and Monsters, we learnt about where the idea of beauty and perfection has stemmed from. Primarily, the beauty of ‘ivory skin’ and traditional glamour has been derived from the tale of Pygmalion and his ivory woman. Along with further concepts and understanding of glamour, this has helped me write my critical essay. With the help of understanding how to analyse an image with concepts and theories from a range of academics, it has helped me prepare my thoughts for writing a critical and thoughtful dissertation proposal which I shall be starting to write next term. Being educated through the use of theory has taught me how to analyse and criticise my own work linking it to theories which have been made concerning glamour and the grotesque. These new theories will in future be applied to my work before analysing what I could have improved in my work. It will assist me in being critical of other people’s work. I hope I will also be able to give a new balance to beauty and monstrosity by combining the two to create a new deeper meaning in my work.