PDP – Constellation 3: Contribution

This final year of constellation certainly was different from the first and second years. Not only have we been focusing on and working towards the completion of our dissertations, but the module as a whole, for me, has been much more enjoyable and approachable. Something I struggled with a lot in the first two years was comprehending the topics we would be discussing lectures, and also struggling to find a connection between the constellation practice and my project work. The topics discussed in ‘Metaphysics of Metaphor’ were interesting and insightful, however I always struggled to contribute and be able to get a strong understanding of what was being discussed. This is partially down to me not being a philosophical person; I haven’t much background and knowledge with the subject, which proved to be a problem when it came down to producing work for the subject. There was an instance where this became extremely apparent when we were asked to produce a 500 word essay and my results weren’t short of disheartening; I just haven’t ever been that skilled when it comes to written work. I was usually left feeling extremely confused and a little lost when attending a lecture, which subsequently made me rather anxious and skeptical of going into year 3 of constellation (especially with the dissertation pressures looming), however this year has been much different. I would put this down to voicing to Clive that I was feeling these emotions when leaving his lectures or tutorials, and since speaking about this I feel his approach towards his methods of teaching with me have become much more direct and understandable. As a student, I benefit better from direct and clear teaching, so it quickly became apparent that ‘Metaphysics of Metaphor’ wasn’t to right subject for me. Although I struggled I still tried to contribute, but it never seemed to materialize. I feel like experiencing these emotions reflected in the work that I produced. I haven’t ever been especially talented when it comes down to writing an essay, and I feel like this really showed throughout my constellation essays, always falling below where I had hoped to be although I had been working hard on what I was writing. Again, this filled me with dread for when it came to writing my dissertation. After leaving school and college, there haven’t been many situations where I have had to write an essay, never mind a 10’000 word essay. Due to this I felt rather unprepared for the dissertation period.

When it came down to beginning the research and preparation for my dissertation, I jumped straight in. I had many ideas on what I wanted to write my dissertation on, but one stood out the most from the get-go, and that was studying the works of Marina Abramovic. The next few weeks showed me switching in and out of confusion as to whether this would be the correct topic for me to work on, but eventually I decided that this is the topic I was most passionate about, therefore this is what I should focus on in order for me to write a successful dissertation. Although Abramovic is a performance artist and I am an illustrator, I quickly began to find links between my dissertation topic and my project work in Subject. The work I had been producing over the last year has been focusing on the workings of the human body. Mostly I have found myself fanatical about how our bodies are put together in such a clever manner, how we are held together in one piece by so many important and critical bodily parts and functions. When it came to writing my dissertation I found myself still focusing deeply on the body, but exploring different ideas and concepts of this. For example, Abramovic uses her body as her medium and throughout her performances we are reminded of how important this is for both her as a performer and us as the audience. As time progressed I began to really value this link between my dissertation topic and my project work. Although it may be faint, there is a connection that is enough to explore different paths within the subject matter. I found myself focusing on what happens within our bodies in my project work, and with my dissertation I found myself highlighting the different ways we can use our bodies within performance. By choosing to focus on this for my dissertation, I feel like it has given me the opportunity to do something I may not have had to chance to do. For example, I am studying illustration and I have written about performance art. Knowing the way I work as an illustrator, I knew that there probably wouldn’t be a situation where I could give myself the opportunity to write about something else that I find myself passionate about.

I chose to do the 10’000 word essay over the artifact. This is mainly because I didn’t think having only 6000 words would be enough to cover all of the information I had researched, on top of speaking about my own work. However, I did find myself considering this for a short while, and being faced with the opportunity to create a performance of my own excited me. Clive and I spoke of how I could combine subject areas, illustration and performance art, to make a performance of my own. As well as this, I would have included research results of Abramovic’s approach to performance. But alas I didn’t feel as though this would have been the correct approach to my dissertation, so I stuck with the full thesis, and upon completion I am happy with my decision.

Throughout my dissertation I found myself exploring and researching areas that I would have never of thought myself to get into. These included research into different theatre techniques that Abramovic incorporated into her own performances. Both the works of Bertolt Brecht and his design of the Epic Theatre, and Antonin Artaud and his development of the Theatre of Cruelty have been used within performance art from the 1960s to the 2000s. Alongside this, I found myself delving into Stanley Milgrim’s theories of obedience to authority in order to attempt to explain the actions of members of an audience. I feel rather positive about including these areas of research as I struggled quite a lot at the beginning when it came down to finding information to include in my thesis to support my arguments and claims.

Throughout the process of writing the dissertation I found it extremely helpful to refer back to the example dissertations that were submitted online by Cath. This helped me to get an understanding of structure and fluidity of writing. I mostly found these dissertations helpful when it came down to writing my introduction and conclusion, as I wasn’t sure on how these were to be written. Overall I feel like I have worked myself hard and pushed myself, now I can only hope that this is reflected throughout my writing.

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