Field ReflectionPosted: May 31, 2016
Term 1 | Art & the Conscious Mind:
Art and the conscious mind was a topic I have had an increasing interest in this year, especially at the beginning of the Field module, and this was the reason I spent so long and put so much effort into pestering people to swap their place with me. After finally receiving a message saying I could swap I was eager to begin the term and expand my knowledge of consciousness and perception of environment, or at least just being engaged in productive conversations and lectures on the topic.
The class was taught by lecturer and artist Robert Pepperell. We learned about Agnosia, a condition where the victim loses their ability to recognise the meaning and secondary connotations further than the shapes, angles and colour of an object, among many other angles on the topic of consciousness and perception. Throughout this term I was prompted to consider my own views and how they agree with and contrast those of the lecturer, philosophers and my peers in the class, and I think this is a skill which will be endlessly helpful during my time at university and working in the world of design.
I also got to experience the different teaching styles of different lecturers and a whole selection of sub-topics within the ‘umbrella’ of Art and Consciousness. These included James Green’s session on hallucinations. It was refreshing to speak to someone who seemed on the same level as the students in the class, offering advice about the industry but also speaking to us like we were having a casual discussion about our own personal experiences. I think this teaching style is really positive and helpful for learning and engaging people in a topic. We also had the chance to create an art piece with chalk and charcoal, a technique I would not have necessarily chosen on my own and one which I really enjoyed doing.
We also had a session with Theo, where the class simply played a mass game of consequences, or exquisite corpse, and learned about the benefits of play for creativity and breaking through the ‘block’ artists sometimes experience while working on a project. My favourite lecture from this term was Anna’s session on meditation. After just completing her mindful meditation course I was happy for the extension.
At the end of the term the class was asked to individually prepare and deliver a five-minute presentation communicating what we had learned during the term and express our own opinions and how we will use this new knowledge in future artistic projects and ventures. I initially found this quite challenging, especially considering the presentation was recorded and posted to the Moodle page for everyone to listen to. However, I used this opportunity to ‘face my fear’ and although I haven’t plucked up the courage to listen to myself online yet, I think it was a very productive experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this term and would really encourage future students to also give it a shot.
Term 2 | Tipping Point
After completing the first half of the Field module, it did initially slip my mind that I would also have to participate in the second half. This then resulted in further desperate messages to other students to swap from Imagination is Beautiful to Wendy and Anna’s topic, Tipping Point. The promise of working with a ‘real-life’ client seemed more beneficial and engaging than what I thought would be just drawing bar charts in pretty colours. In retrospect I am still not entirely sure this was the right decision to make, as all of the people who took Information is Beautiful seemed to really enjoy the work and all left with a solid final piece to display in their portfolio and be proud of. I, on the other hand, struggled through the tasks of Tipping Point and ended with a badly put together blog post on our final event and nothing at all to add to my portfolio or website.
However I did take a lot of valuable knowledge and benefits from this half of the term, including connections to Size of Wales, a charity who now hopefully know my face and who I could potentially approach for design work in the future with an existing idea of the charity and their work. I also gained an insight into the varying work of a professional designer; it is not all posters and clever signage, but more the ideas that I can contribute to a client, activities they could conduct to raise ‘footfall’ or awareness of a concept, in addition to the design work that would go into these activities. I got tips on how to write an effective brief and how to contact and interact with a client, which will hopefully be really helpful when it comes to doing this alone or as part of a professional agency in the future.
As well as these, I also learned quite a lot about teamwork, and looking back at my blog posts I can appreciate that I did not handle all of the situations the best I could and I have identified that this is something I will need to work on in future. One of my biggest weaknesses is my commitment; not because I am lazy or spend my time avoiding responsibility but because a lot of the time I will prioritise too many things and jobs to do at once, and will therefore only be able to apply a fraction of my commitment to each. I have since left my jobs outside of university and I hope this will help me to focus fully on projects in my next year of university.
The Field module, for me, has been eye-opening in terms of learning new ways to work and how people work together (especially in difficult situations), and it has certainly been eventful. Although I much preferred the first term, with the comfort of the classroom, thought-provoking questions and varied lectures, I can appreciate that both have improved my awareness of the design industry and the different possibilities a future in design can offer me, and what I can offer it in return. Tipping Point showed me that there is much more to design than pretty posters and Adobe software, and given me experience with a client in a secure environment. Art & the Conscious Mind taught me to be more aware of myself and to consider more philosophical ideas, and to apply this thought to my design and art work in future.
I did enjoy Tipping Point, in-between the times of frustration, however I do think that the first term better reflected my ambition. The mindfulness session especially, although Anna conducted more sessions through Tipping Point I think the connection with consciousness was much more appropriate. I am grateful to Anna for sharing her passion with the group and I would recommend that everyone practise meditation or even just general mindfulness; it is so helpful for centring yourself and feeling calm in what otherwise could be stressful situations. I will continue to use the skills Anna has taught me this year, in her own mindful meditation sessions as well as those conducted during Field, and I hope she gets the chance to continue to share her knowledge with students next year and throughout her time working at the university.
Anna also introduced the technique of recording the group’s discussions and idea generation, so that we could look back at our ideas and critique our teamwork. This seems to be a technique growing in popularity and proved to be fairly beneficial to our work as it also meant that there was an added pressure to come up with ideas and not stray too far from the topic at hand.
At the beginning of Field students choose their favourite topics and are assigned according to their choices and the space available. This process must work to a certain extent, however after spending hours looking up students on Facebook to ask each of them if they would change places with me, if there was one thing I would suggest to change about Field it would be to add a form for students to request a swap. I am aware that ideally all students should choose their subjects within the time frame given, and stick to those choices, however people change their minds and there will always be situations which make choosing on time impossible. Other than this I think the module is really good for integrating students from different subjects and I have found my time during Field ultimately very interesting and beneficial to my studies and design work.