I know that the term officially came to end a month ago but my work in the period only now seems to have come to a natural pause. Accordingly I have taken some time to reflect on the MA work so far in this post.
I have had a great term in the sense of the work but it has been created against a backdrop of hardship. Dad broke his hip and was hospitalised for three weeks and returned home very frail and needy; at the same time we lost heat and hot water and this took a great deal of money and over a month to sort out. In a way the MA work has been my salvation as it has allowed me to escape and process my feelings. I created five projects this term and am pleased with the direction of travel.
If term one of this MA was about finding my personal voice again then term two has been about two things: 1) obtaining clarity through redaction, abstraction and symbolism and 2) reminding myself of the value of experimentation.
The formalism that became a dominant feature of term one’s work morphed into a sharp focus and greater clarity through either removing things or creating them wholly without reference to referents. The experimentation in using sound and video seemed irrelevant (but fun), and our required application of it for the Unit 1 mid term review, turned out to offer me a real and uncharted option for my final presentation as it was clear the pacey video approach along with ambient garden sounds worked well.
I decided to return to the suggested questions I answered at the end of term 1 to review the term and so have completed the same exercise below.
1) What was the best thing I did?
I am pleased with most of the projects I carried out this term but think that the work on symbolism was probably the best because in some ways it was simultaneously the most simple and complex. Yet it was the Unit 1 Mid Term review that gave me most satisfaction in terms of creating a piece of work and listening to the feedback.
But in truth it is almost impossible to identify one single thing that is the best thing I did as the value for me is about the whole process. For example, creating, editing and looking after my blog has become a daily pleasure. This isn’t always about posting items but can be a simple as tidying up my tag list or checking posts of typographical errors.
2) Why was this the best thing I did?
The symbolism was probably the best work I produced because I only worked with three symbols but yet explored many issues through them such as the complexity of the power of symbolism through eg repetition, personality, scale and context. But I enjoyed the work on bar codes and abstractions as well.
The video presentation offered engagement with others and that’s why I enjoyed that symposium on it so much.
3) How do I know that this was the best thing I did?
The volume of work and amount of time spent on the symbols project was longer and more enjoyable than I would have envisaged, but was it better than say the Blood or Urine projects? No. Each project articulated different aspects of my experience and identity.
4) What worked least well for me?
Exploring sound was both interesting and frustrating – until it came to the video presentation where what I thought was an area that would remain untouched by me came into its own.
5) Why did this not work well for me?
I think that the sound subject matter and how it is manipulated was so far outside of my knowledge base – eg types of sound files and how to manipulate them that I couldn’t really engage with the practicalities of the subject. The focus on sound was also at a time when dad was hospitalised and we lost heating and so I tended to want to lose myself in my work rather than explore a new area.
Yet all of this is only a partial truth: listening to how the others experimented and playing with the software was enjoyable and interesting and gave me a view of an area previously wholly unknown to me. But then I used that experience in presenting my Unit 1 Mid term review and it worked really well but offering a real contrast to the visual stimulus.
6) What have I learned about the topic concerned from this not having worked well for me?
Sometimes, especially at the beginning of things, you just don’t know what value something might have at a future point. Don’t kill yourself researching it but also don’t wholly discount it as it might appear irrelevant but offer some value later on. This was the case in terms of sound and my presentation.
7) What have I learned about myself from this not having worked well for me?
I have learned that while it’s good to step outside the usual focus the trick is 1) to consider how it might apply to your own work and 2) not to labour at something to long when your interest isn’t piqued. In other words, explore and play and then move on.
8) What do I plan to do differently in future as a result of my answers to the above questions?
I won’t beat myself up over not getting interested in an area. Rather I will keep my eyes open to new things but to not worry if I don’t embrace them at the time I am introduced to them. For example, I was introduced to Blast Theory by Johnathan and spent some time exploring that. It had little to do with my work but I still found the whole concept interesting and absorbing. (I also enjoyed making the video).
9) With hindsight, how would I go about this activity differently if doing it again from scratch?
I would just play more and not worry about following Ed’s instructions to the letter.
10) To what extent will this activity influence the way I tackle anything similar in future?
It will result in me working with a lighter touch in some areas.
11) What did I find the greatest challenge in doing this work?
The lack of technical knowledge and interest at the time. It was only when I came to make the Unit 1 mid term review that I recognised the value of the sound work.
12) Why was this challenging for me?
Because I feel driven to work on the stuff that fires me up and was not prepared to put the time and effort into an area – sound art – which I couldn’t easily engage with at the time.
13) To what extent do I feel I have met this challenge?
I met it by chance through making the video and I learned that its easy to be blind to areas that don’t initially appear to offer any value to ones own work.
14) What can I do to improve my performance when next meeting this particular sort of challenge?
I should not get stressed. All I need to do is be open to the subject, think about how it could apply to my practice and then, if I think it has potential experiment a little but if not then don’t worry and just move on.
15) What was the most boring or tedious part of doing this particular task for me?
It was the lack of my technical knowledge – eg of converting sound files so they could play in Audacity that was the problem.
16) Can I see the point of doing these things? If not, how could the activity be changed to be more stimulating and interesting for me?
The fact that I used sound in the video shows the point of exploring and experimenting outside of ones usual practice.
17) Has my project proposal changed?
This question prompted me to review my project proposal where I found the version 3 October 2014 proposal was unsatisfactory in terms of my intension and context still.
18) What next?
I still have some work to do with symbols in context and also want to use the time before next term to explore the representation of Black people to see if there are any connections between my experience and theirs in terms of representation.
The issue of anchoring meaning is still the constant issue, but now I am clearer on how it relates to context, production and association values.