Constellation Reflective Text

Constellation has widened my mind to things that before I most likely would not have considered whilst designing. Being in interdisciplinary groups has helped broaden my understanding of art and design as a whole, I now realise how my mind works differently in comparison to someone who studies a different disciplinary. In ‘the body in society’ whilst studying the architecture of Bentham’s Panoticon (which was a prison designed in order for the prisoners be seen but not to see from the ‘Peripheric’ building, but for the guard to see but not to be seen from the central tower), we were put into groups of different dispensaries and were asked what the idea of seeing and not being seen reminded us of. Typical of a product designer I thought of CCTV, whereas a fine artist in my group had angels as their first thought.

Both of my lecturers seemed very passionate about what they were teaching which I admired, they also both had a very different style of teaching. My ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’ lecturer was very good in terms of keeping each lecture’s layout very similar, this made it easy to adjust and prepare for the lectures. Although when given a text to read, we did not read through it as a class, whereas my ‘Body in Society’ lecturer would read out loud and explain complicated terms as they were reading, which was much more effective since we understood more as a class.

A specific theory that stuck out for in constellation was Piaget ‘The Relation between Subject and Object’ which I studied in ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’. Before Piaget’s work, the common assumption in psychology was that children are merely less competent thinkers than adults. Where in reality, children simply think in a different way to adults. Our lecturer then related this to Ikea’s Plush toys which were designed around 10 children’s drawing. The children could justify why they drew their drawings like they did, and this revealed that children do indeed think differently to adults. This raised the question, ‘Can adults Design Toys for Children? I explored this idea of adults designing toys further, I chose to do this because as an adult designer that is very interested in design for children (in the past I have designed baby bags, car seats and high chairs), I thought it could help me understand what is needed to be done in order to design effectively for children.

Another theory that was introduced to me in one of the ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’ lectures which I found of great interest was Rudolf Arnheim’s theory of ‘Visual Thinking’ which was based around the concept that everyone’s cognitions work differently due to the fact we all experiences things differently due to our five sense. To explain further, nobody will ever be able to see exactly what you see from your perspective. This idea adjusted the way I think about my practice since it is proven that everyone thinks differently regardless of if they are the same age, race or gender, which makes designing for a certain category of people even more difficult.

The final theory I will discuss from one of my ‘Creativity and Cognitive Development’ lectures is Duchamp M’s ‘The Creative Act’, his theory was that a designers ‘intentions’ of a design idea ‘and its realisation’ can be very different, as a designer I can relate to this straight away, for example during my a-levels I had designed and made a baby changing bag for a mum with arthritis, once it had been completed I gave it to my target audience to use for a period of time and then gave them a questionnaire to fill out, and some of their reactions were very unexpected, for example, they said that the pockets which were initially categorised for bottles, they tended to use for storage of toys. I have unintentionally designed for newborns/children a lot during my design education; this year at Cardiff Met I am designing a car seat for a new-born. The reason why ‘The Creative Act’ theory is relevant to this is since it is based on one’s visual, and a child ‘Looks and recognises before it can speak’ (Beger). Therefore, children pay greater attention to the world’s aesthetics. To help differentiate between a child and an adults cognition in regards to ‘visual thinking’ , if you were to show an adult a box, all they would see is a box, but a child could see the potential for things such as a rocket ship or a car.

‘The body in society’ has influenced the way I think about my practice enormously. My practice revolves primarily around designing for people, therefore understanding the way people think about themselves and how others think of them is essential in designing effectively. One lecture we read the text ‘Identity’. I had never realised how complicated the term identity was until this lecture. It was more complex due to the fact that, for example, you may identify someone as a woman, but they may not choose to be identified in that way, they may choose to be identified as a man. And within that identity category of women there are many more categories, although binaries help simplify this, for example, you must identify as; man/woman, black/white.

We also studied ‘Ways of seeing’ by John Berger in ‘The body in society’, Berger discussed how the eating of the apple in Genesis made them aware that nudity brought shame, and most oil painting after had the women being subject and being shown that they are aware of being seen. Being educated about gender in art and design history is of use to me as I can see how things have progressed throughout time. In today’s world mass media not only focuses on the female form but now also the male form is subject to desire. I am now only more curious of what people’s opinion on gender will be in another century’s time.

Word Count: 997

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