I wasn’t feeling that confident when handing in my dissertation proposal as I felt that although I had established my ideas they covered a wide spectrum and I had not yet chosen which material was the best to research. My ideas are changed somewhat since the proposal was written though. My initial idea was to look at evil in society, however I was planning to build my dissertation around Foucault’s writings on the panopticon as I had been doing a lot of studio work based on this at the time. I think the main issue with my proposal was that I had not created a title and at the time and I felt this was a crucial element in order to get focused. As it turned out the title was one of the last things I done. In addition to this I felt that I had the deep interest in the psychological aspect of my research, however I didn’t have much figured out regarding the art that I was going to use in relation to evil Well apart from one piece, the inspiration of the dissertation ‘Gaskamer’ by Luc Tuymans. I was fascinated at how he normalised evil within his work. At this point following my proposal feedback I began really focusing on my research as I looked in to the Milgram and Zimbardo studies, as well as the writings of Foucault to enhance my knowledge. I also had some books out on the work of Luc Tuymans that I was reading.
After the summer break I came back to find that my tutor had changed from Morag to Ashley Morgan. I felt that this was a positive change as she helped me formulate in a more concise way what my dissertation was going to entail. She told me to look more at writings on ‘Gaskamer’ and to start an introduction. Over the summer I had started my dissertation however I felt lost as I was starting at random parts throughout the study and it had no real body to it. She told me to outline each chapter. This was something that I found challenging as I wasn’t completely sure what each chapter would be. In the next tutorial I mentioned this and she helped me map out each chapter. Suddenly I was feeling much more confident about writing it. I also mentioned that I was worried about reaching the ten thousand words and she said that this was a common fear for students at this stage. She also suggested I look at Barthes and Derrida for research, which I did, and I found Barthes was the more relevant to my research. She also told me to book an appointment with Jenny Godfrey, which I did as I needed further help with the library. At my next tutorial I felt I had made good progress, the structure of my dissertation was built. Two chapters that I was struggling with was the literature review and the section on art from the past. Ashley told me to look at the works of Goya and so I did.
Following my appointment with Jenny Godfrey I had some more resources to work from. This was also the time in which I was working under pressure to get as much as I could done form my draft hand in date with Ashely. I felt I had done a reasonable amount at around three thousand words. The feedback she gave was informative as she said I had made a good start however I needed help with my spelling and grammar as well as more context. She also said my idea was very good but I was told that I needed to be more specific and state exactly what I meant and not to be afraid to describe things. She also suggested that I take a look at Gramsci. Upon doing this however I did not feel that much of his prison notebooks was relevant to my research. In addition she suggested making reference to real life events such as the Nuremberg trials. This was valuable advice as I based a section of my dissertation on this.
At the next tutorial I had made good progress again, however I was still struggling with my literature review. After looking it up online I began to realise how to write one. Despite this I still asked Ashley for advice in the next tutorial. She told me to categorise it and simply write what books I have read and what kind of ideas I am expressing. I was also worried about repeating myself but she said not to worry about this as long as I am not repeating ideas. She also gave me that extra push that was needed before I went away for the Christmas holidays.
During the Christmas holidays I wrote the majority of my dissertation and I only had part of the conclusion to finish when I came back. At this point I arranged one last tutorial with Ashley in order to ask a few questions. The main one was that I hadn’t yet decided what my title was going to be. I had an example of one however I wasn’t confident with it, but she helped me think of one that sounded professional. I also had a few questions regarding referencing and she helped me with these.
Overall I found the dissertation quite daunting but with every tutorial I felt more confident with it. I am pleased with my outcome and felt that I have done my idea justice. I also feel I have learnt more about my theme and this is something that I can take into the remaining months of my studio practice.
I felt constellation this year was well suited to my studio work in the long term, however the International Discourses within Art and Design module did seem a bit useless to begin with in terms of what direction I wanted to take my work in. I did end up however really enjoying most of the lectures before Christmas, and they began to influence my studio work for the better, and it will have ultimately influenced my dissertation also. The most influential aspects for me was the introduction of Foucault, and the general relation to theoretical views on society. The lectures were very well presented and constructed by our module leader Morag Colquhoun. Who was also my Level 4 constellation tutor so it was someone I was familiar with and someone who showed a great deal of interest in my work.
At the end of the first term we had to produce a presentation which consisted of what we were interested in in terms of the project and in terms of what we could potentially look deeper into with the shadow of dissertation looming. At this point, I was really unsure about my presentation and I did feel the whole dissertation process was rushed a bit at this stage. I didn’t end up basing my presentation on something I particularly wanted to do for dissertation, I based it upon something that I felt was very closely linked to the International Discourse module. It was presentation based on the racial barriers within the art world, particularly the painting world. The main aspect was focused around a female black artist who was recently nominated for the Turner Prize, her name being Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. I was essentially challenging the very fundamentals of race within art, and how black artists have been credited, in particularly when the subject of the piece is on a black person, rather than the artist themselves. I was really disappointed with this presentation and in the end of term feedback me and Morag did discuss this in detail, and I began to feel good with what direction I wanted to push my work in.
After Christmas we had a few weeks of large lectures in which we discussed some advice and facts about our upcoming dissertation research. We then had to submit a dissertation sheet which outlined what we would like to research for our dissertation. The tutors then chose which student would be best suited to their area of expertise, I was put with Morag was again. We then had some early research tutorials in which we started to map out and sculpt our dissertation plans. She advised some books for me to read and I proceeded by doing this is the period leading up to my next tutorial. The books that I were reading were about authority’s constraints on society, as I am studying how evilness in constructed in society and the art world. Therefore society aspect to me is something I am very interested in. The next tutorial was when we looked further into the writing of the dissertation proposal and how to approach it. We essentially constructed a quick plan and since then I have started and almost finished my dissertation proposal. Overall it has gave me a better idea of what I am studying, how to approach it and what to do in the near future.
I considered the aspect of modern art having more of a freedom to challenge or attack social floor. This is ultimately as a result of a higher awareness perhaps due to advances in technology. Or a fairer democratic society in which artist have a license and some who say duty to do so.
After paying close attention to the Turner prize 2013 I was shocked to find their was only one painter, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
She is an artist who paints black people from imagination and memory, the black people depicted on the canvas isn’t actually an individual, isn’t this a form of generalization?
I compared this to the ‘study of a black man’ by Joshua Reynolds, in 1770.
This piece also harbors an element of generalization. An aspect common with the slave trade. It could be said Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is confronting this stereotype; as she challenges the accepted norm of western figuration by depicting black subjects.
‘The basic missions of global management have endured from the early postwar period, among them: containing other centers of global power within the “overall framework of order” managed by the United States; maintaining control of the world’s energy supplies; barring unacceptable forms of independent nationalism; and overcoming “crises of democracy” within domestic enemy territory.’ Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, New York, Metropolitan Books, 2003
‘The primary economic role of wars, however, was as a means to open up new markets that had been sealed up and to generate postwar peacetime booms. Now wars and disaster responses are so fully privatized that they are themselves the new market.’ Naomi Klein, ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’, 2007
These statements outline the superiority of western powers and in particular on global issues. This could be regarded as a panopticon society on a worldwide scale.
‘The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual care taking of the museum of human history.’ Francis Fukyuama, The End of History? 1989
This aspect of one panopticon global society is suggested here.
The power of a spectacle is an interesting aspect of society. Television can be viewed as a spectacle to some degree. A spectacle that perhaps blinds us through the power of entertainment.
This was the lecture that originally most interested me, it tackled the issues within our own society. The battle the ‘other’ within our own world.
The Perry works that attack the upper classes is a crucial element of modernism. It could be said that modern art forms have a revolutionary quality. A quality that portrays the ‘other’ is a positive light. Voices that have long been silenced previous to this. Do artists have more of a right or a duty to portray the downfalls of society? Has art become more of a nuisance to authorities? Another example of modern art tackling social issues or traits is the Touch Sanitaton project.
‘Waste is our immediate unwanted past. Do we conserve its energy through transformation, or do we drown in it?’
Merle Laderman Ukeles, ‘Sanitation Manifesto!’ (1984)
This was a work that magnified the role of garbage men, a necessary role society overlooks.
‘But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so-called oppressors. I am therefore again faced with a greater semiological system: there is a signifier, itself already formed with a previous system (a black soldier is giving the French salute); there is a signified (it is here a purposeful mixture of Frenchness and militariness); finally, there is a presence of the signified through the signifier. ‘
‘In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions because it is without depth, a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity: things appear to mean something by themselves.’
‘Myth is constitued by the loss of historical quality of things in it, things lose the memory that we were once made. The world…comes out of myth as a harmonious display of essences.’ Roland Barthes, Mythologies
This aspect of mythology is something the lecture touched upon. The aspect of history being corrupt is something that interests me. Isn’t the corruption of the past or perhaps the myths created a form of indoctrination. Much of the past is glamorised one could say. How much of this is down to natural memory loss and how much the authorities portraying a more respeactable and suited ideal. The lecture then touched up the aspect of hidden ugliness. Much of with mythology is masking perhaps.
Art that challenges hidden ugliness is something that intrigued me. This below is a piece by Santiago Sierra.
‘I have been called an exploiter. At the Kunstwerke in Berlin they criticized me because I had people sitting for four hours a day, but they didn’t realize that a little further up the hallway the guard spends eight hours a day on his feet. You want to stick your ﬁnger in the wound and say that the work is deﬁnitely torture, that it is indeed a punishment of biblical proportions. And when you put your name on the work it seems that you’re held responsible for the capitalist system itself. Many of the people who make those criticisms have never worked in their lives; if they think it’s a horror to sit hidden in a cardboard box for four hours, they don’t know what work is.’
This piece magnifies the attitudes of society, and how much of wrong doing in society is overlooked until it is force fed to the public in a sense.
We focused on modernity and the ‘other’ in this session, the first issue we discussed was the fundamentals of order, evolution and balance. The relationship between order and evolution was something that I found interesting. ‘Order is a prerequisite of survival, therefore the impulse to produce orderly arrangements is inbred by evolution.’
Order amongst humanity was also an interesting topic. ‘Order is a necessary condition for anything the human mind is to understand.’ it could be said order is an embedded element of the human psyche.
While order and evolution work hand in hand balance is the element that always stays constant. ‘The state of balance is the only one in which the system remains at rest, and balance makes for order because it represents the simplest possible configuration of the system’s components.’ I found this aspect of the human psyche very interesting, particularly in relation to my current body of work. Is it a fair to say order is a form of authority.
Considering my research of the Stanley Milgram experiment it can be said order or rather authority is a fundamental element of human nature. Could it be that human nature craves order/authority? I believe so. Furthermore it could be said balance is a form of obedience, authority requires obedience to keep a steady balance.
Another interesting aspect of order and authority amongst society that the lecture touched upon was the Jeremy Bentham, panopticon design. Drawn below by Willey Reveley in 1791.
This is essentially a creation that prevents an inmate or society in the twenty first century to be viewed by authority without being able to view back. This was practiced with the ‘Bedlam’ Royal Hospital for the mentally ill. This idea of total control is something that interests me, or even baffles me to some degree. Outside of the lecture I researched this panopticon theory and became fascinated by the philosopher Michael Foucault.
His studies on discipline and punish particularly interested me. He suggested how there was a stark contrast between punishment of old and punishment within modern society. The difference between torturing and the numbing prison routine which he believed was a metaphor for society. It wasn’t that he condoned torture he just refused to endorse the prison system. Ultimately, prison reflects the workings of society, through panopticism, or rather the all seeing eye.
Another aspect of control and order that we looked at was haussmanisation, which was the renovation of Paris between 1853-1970. This transformation of Paris ultimately provided the hierarchy with a better construction for control. The design allowed the authorities to control elements of urban living such as crime. It enabled quick access for the armed forces. Furthermore it provided a more controllable environment.
For the perfect ﬂaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy … to be away from home; to see the world, to be at the
centre of the world, and yet to be hidden from the world.’
Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life, 1863
This phrase ‘hidden from the world’ is of particular interest to me, this suggestion of this city being cordoned off is surely prison-like. The prison for the criminals yet to commit a crime one could say.