At the start of the year I knew that I wanted to focus my dissertation on the Pop Art movement because it had always been an interest in mine and upon starting constellation in the first year with John Clarkson where we began to fully analyse the movement and artists from it. Not only did the movement interest me because of the commercial aspect but it also influenced me in my own practice. Much like a collage and mixed materials used in a ‘Peter Blake Toy Shop’. I wanted to explore how the combination of materials would look and how they interacted within the image. In Pop Art the work reflected the modern day America and in my practice I also wanted to be inspired by my current world around me. In my current project, in subject I explored and found objects in my local area and I want combine materials to create a collage of mixed media which reflected my surroundings.

Because the Pop Art movement was such a large topic I found it difficult to focus my study into one question and after a lot of research I only felt more lost. It only came clearer when Jayne Cunnick-Hall suggested I have a go at automatic writing which helped to open my sub-conscious and find the answer hidden under all my thoughts. The thought came to me in the idea of celebrity. I was interested in how Pop artists portrayed celebrities and wanted to focus specifically on Andy Warhol and his portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. I think I find Warhol interesting because he goes against the tradition painting and introduces a mechanized version of art whereas I am very different in my own practice. I still enjoy including myself in the process as much as possible and enjoy a very hands-on experience with art, where-as Warhol would try and rid himself and the makers mark. What also intrigues me about Warhol is that he rarely portrays his own emotions through his work, where-as I always do, I would like to take inspiration from him and try a more mechanized approach in my subject and see how that would alter my outcomes.

When it came to the draft hand-in I had only just started to understand myself where I wanted my question and research to go so it was very rushed and I felt more like a plan than an actual draft. I think if I had found out my focused subject earlier it may have been a bit clearer and vast. Upon receiving my results I was not surprised to get lower than what I would have liked but I knew this was down to having made my choice of topic at the last minute. But I was just relieved to have found my topic of choice. Next I needed to gather more information and research from the field. I started by gathering a few books and started watching documentaries of Warhol and Monroe. I found it easier to watch documentaries because I felt I could take in the information easier but it was also helpful to have visual references. I have always found it difficult to read, mainly because I lose concentration easily and I also tend to get the words muddles up. Throughout the Constellation subject I found it easier to read more academic texts so reading a normal book felt a bit less difficult. I have also found it easier to seek information because I will now use the index at the back of the book to find certain information, this takes less time than me flicking through the book or reading it all.

I have always found it hard to write an essay or a thesis because I struggle with my terminology and I also find it difficult to write academically. I would normally find it easier writing about something I feel quite passionately about like my dissertation which is Pop art because I am generally interested and this motivates me to discuss key arguments and debates. I understand my dissertation may feel a little too formal and I have struggled to make it sound more formal due to the topic. I feel the topic of celebrity is something which is informal and can be easily discussed. Success to me is being able to write a dissertation which you feel passionately about but to also get your views across. I feel like I have explored a new avenue in my thesis because upon research and reading there is rarely any papers/books that compare and contrast Monroe with Warhol.

I feel my dissertation has been a struggle because I have not written a thesis this long before, but I found it helpful to do 500 words a day as a basis to starting, because not only was this an achievable but it did not burn me out. By working on 500 words a day I managed to build my word count quickly and I found it helpful to work on certain chapters at a time because I tend to drift to and from sections. To have a thesis I was generally interested in also helped, because I felt more inspired to research up on the topic and explore other artists in this field. I think what would have benefited me more was if I started earlier. Writing the dissertation was a daunting task so I kept delaying it, but once I started I felt a bit of relief. I felt I made an achievement. The hardest task for me was actually starting to write it. If I had started earlier I would have been able to improve much more on my writing techniques. I think working with deadlines in both subject, field and constellation has improved my time keeping, it has helped me to keep procrastination levels down to a small amount and has inspired me to become more organised in all my subjects. Overall I feel that I have achieved the personal goals that I had set myself. In future I must work on my timing and organisation skills.


Constellation/Dissertation (Journey so far)

Before the summer I wanted to look into how was the portrayal of celebrity’ in the Pop Art movement and discuss this in my dissertation. We then worked towards providing a plan of what we would be discussing and what sources we were going to use. This was marked and I was pleased with the result. I know I am not the best at writing especially academically so this was always going to be a difficult task for me.

Over the summer we needed to prepare for our dissertation draft, so I took lots of books home to read. Not only am I bad at writing but I am worse at reading. This is because I am a slow reader and tend to lose concentration easily. I found myself watching lots of documentaries and videos on the subjects because this seemed easier for me to absorb the knowledge. When reading up and absorbing the knowledge I found out that my discussion was very broad so I felt a bit lost in trying to collect all this knowledge.

When I got back into University I had a talk with Jayne and spoke about the troubles I was having trying to find focus in my question and she suggested I try automatic writing. And as mad as it was I found it worked. I wanted to focus in on Andy Warhol and his celebrity brand, but I also was interested in his portrayal of other celebrities especially Marilyn Monroe. Once I started researching more into her life and how she became a celebrity I found lots of similarities between them. I finally found a starting point for my dissertation, sadly this clarity came a little too late for the dissertation draft submission.

I managed to submit a sample of the discussion I wanted to talk about and I know it was shoddy because it was very rushed. To be honest it was more of a plan than a draft so I was not expecting good marks from this (even though I know it wasn’t marked properly). I was surprised by the results because I think Jayne was fair on me. I agree with all the things that were mentioned in the feedback and I hope to work on these from now until the deadline. I need to work more on my language and try not to make it sound too informal.

Overall I am excited about my topic but I need to set myself time to actually crack on with it. I think I need to push myself everyday to write some because at the moment I am falling behind on dissertation due to Subject and the projects I am working on there. I need to beware of my language and use proper terminology. If I follow a plan and work on it everyday/every other day I hope to get the gist of it done and I can spend my time on working on how I can develop my language later.


Reflection on the term so far

This term has proved to be a challenging one and is constantly questioning my abilities. I feel as a maker I am quite slow in the way I work and think and this is causing me to have meltdowns. I have missed a few days due to illness and now I feel more lost than ever. I have had my dissertation draft feedback and I knew in my heart it wasn’t going to be the best because I am still thinking of my final question I want to talk and debate about. How can I write and answer that if I am still unsure. I am struggling to lend my time wisely between subject, constellation and also home life. There are lots of things going on around me and it seems I am struggling to focus and get back motivated. Due to being ill, I haven’t been able to do much this week as I haven’t been able to raise my head from my pillow. I need to start making time for all my responsibilities in the day, maybe I could do 2 hours dissertation, and fix my subject and home life around that. I am finding it incredibly difficult, and I just hope I can sort myself out soon enough because time seems to be passing me by rather swiftly.


My Reflection for Lv5 Constellation

At the start of the term we had the chance to pick what topic we would like to know more about, I was so lucky to receive my first option which was Jayne Cunnick Hall – The many Guises of the Absurd. This was the lecture that really stood out to me mainly because I enjoy absurd things but I also found Jayne to be a strong speaker, her voice was clear and easy to understand. In our first lesson we started off by looking up the definition of ‘Absurd’ in the dictionary, this is one of the things I do often just to get to grips with the terminology of certain words. We then moved on to watching film clips online. I find watching things much more easier than reading, so this helped was a great help. “What is absurd? The chaotic and purposeless nature of the universe, and the futility of human attempts to make sense of it.” I found the subject of Existentialism to be really interesting, I often wonder what am I doing on earth and who does this benefit. Because I could relate to the subject I found myself getting more intrigued by it.

Because I was so interested in the subject it made it easier to get to grips with the work. It only started to get difficult in week 2 where we looked into the concepts of existentialism because there was a lot to take in. After the lesson I found it useful to re-read over the powerpoint again just to get it inside my head. We were given things to read over the week and at times I found this very difficult to read. I have always found critical texts hard to read mainly because of the wording and the use of long words of which I have never heard of. When we read over it in class and discussed it as group I found it much easier to understand. Every lesson we had a brief recap of the previous lesson. I found this useful as I tend to forget things easily.

Writing my essay was a difficult one, I found a film I had watched to be very fitting in what we had learnt about existentialists. In my head it all made sense, the main character was going through an existential crisis. It seemed perfect for my essay, but as I started to write it I found it difficult to argue and debate. There was nothing written about the film to suggest he was having an existential crisis but it was perfectly fitting in my mind. When writing this essay I got really confused and everything that was in my head wasn’t coming out well on paper (this tends to happen, like all the time). When I had submitted my essay my overall feedback was that it was difficult to read due to muddled sentences and that I couldn’t really get my point across. I was dissapointed because I knew that I struggled with this and I didn’t seek help when I really should have. This is a recurring issue I need to deal with, instead of suffering in silence I need to speak out, luckily I was not graded on it.

At the start of January it was a fresh term with new lectures this time concerning our DISSERTATION, as much as I was worried, I was sort of pleased because I am keen at starting early and not leaving things till last minute. We were given 3 lectures at the start of second term, explaining that we needed to fill out a Dissertation planning form this would give us the right tutor for the dissertation. At first I had no idea what I wanted to do. so I started writing down things I was interested in, disney, popart, existentialism, just to name a few. I started off by putting down my ‘Gender Roles in Disney idea’ and I was so excited to write about this. I always watched the animated films as a child but never wondered about the concepts of the heroines behind them. It was going well, I bought a few books and wrote down some notes, until I spoke to my tutor. She said she loathed disney and that she had never seen any of the films, and she said it had be done many times before. I was completely and utterly disheartened. I carried on with the idea until I spoke to my tutor on the maker course. He suggested it may be seen as not a very professional thing to write about because of the subject matter so I finally scrapped that idea.

My next protocol was Pop Art, the movement always had an impact on me as an artist. I really loved the bright bold colours and mixed media collages. I started looking into the movement and similar themes started to arise. The themes were ‘mass produced’, ‘celebrity icons’, ‘consumer market’ and ‘The media’. I looked into artists that inspired me like Peter Blake and from there on I could see myself definitely doing a dissertation on Pop Art. I watched a documentary on Andy Warhol and the Pop Artist’s work wasn’t all that it had seemed, something about it was quite dismal and disturbing. I thought Pop art was a bright and cheery movement celebrating the 1950-60’s popular culture, but I was wrong. I loved seeing the hidden features of the work that previously I hadn’t seen which made it seem now so imperfect.

I am so glad to have found the topic I feel passionate about and that I could write 10,000 words about. I am finding it difficult to read certain books still as my concentration doesn’t last long but if I continue to enjoy this subject it will make the reading easier. I am finding it extremely useful researching documentaries and newspaper articles, I find them interesting to listen too and read. To be successful in writing my dissertation, I will need to get as much reading done now, quoting references down when I find them. I will also need to cast my net wide in order to get as much research and subjects to write about. I need to focus on my actual subject matter, and to not stray from that. I am feeling positive about writing my dissertation (so far).

The Many Guises of the Absurd- Week 4 notes

This lesson for the first half of the lesson we had critical thinking and writing basics, here are some of my notes from that lesson. I found that lesson very helpful because it’s always nice to recap on what we need to include in our essays and what they look for when marking.

Notes on Critical thinking and writing.

An essay is an academic argument which attempts to persuades the reader, and in order to do this effectively you need certain components. Make sure you back a claim with evidence.

Promise+Claim+Attempt to persuade=Argument


facts need to be sound and found from reliable sources. In the summary you will need to repeat the key points and not make new claims, end of paragraph/chapter do not attempt to persuade. Put forward your own ideas not someone else’s, but use their ideas to back yours up. Needs to end with a conclusion. Don’t rant. You should be looking at radio broadcasts/newspapers/weekly magazines/lectures/films and tv documentaries as sources. If the url on a website ends in .ac.uk then that means it is a uk academic webiste which is ok to use and also the american version which is .edu. Avoid blogs. Use Google scholar. And if you are struggling there is always a help service available.

After that lesson we had tutorials in groups. I found this very helpful as I wasn’t too sure of what I could have done my essay on and after a chat with the group and with Jayne I had a rough idea.

The Many Guises of the Absurd- Week 3 notes

At the start of the lesson which I found very helpful was we had a recap of the concepts of the Existentialist movement which I had previously had difficulty understanding but the more I go over it the better I can understand it.

This lesson we had a history lesson on where existentialism came from. Existentialism and the notion of the absurd is about the human condition. Nothing is more absurd than war.It is argued that Existentialism is born of the despair and desolation of a post war society, that the conflict, loss of life, and the invention of the atomic bomb questioned the fundamental belief that people are innately good.

Theatre of the Absurd, the Term coined by Martin Esslin, in an essay of
the same name in 1960. Esslin groups together authors & playwrights
with similar themes and literary devices. The Book entitled ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ was published by Esslin in 1962. The theatre of the absurd was said to be influenced by Music hall performance, Vaudeville and Slapstick as well as Existentialism and The Absurd.

We looked at videos from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who are well known for their slapstick comedy. These are things we can relate to it in some way and is universal because they have engagement in the same world which we do.

The theatre of the absurd goes against this and creates situations we are not familiar with and as we don’t understand it we brand it as absurd. Key Characteristics of Absurdist Plays and Dramas are the  language tends to be fragmented and dialogue includes pauses, cliches, wordplay and ‘double entendres’. Rational, discursive thoughts abandoned in favor of unfinished conversation and absurd conversational directions. Plot lines tend to be illogical or non-existent and there is rarely a coherent end to the story, where there is an ending it is usually unsatisfactory. Authors intend to puzzle or disturb the audience, ideally causing them to question existence and it’s meaning, so previous theatre conventions are liberately flouted. Plots, conversations and storylines tend to be full of extremes and contradictions. The tragic and the comic are dealt with in equal measure, this is a way to explore and interrogate the human
condition or ask what it is to Be.

I found it interesting to see the history of existentialism and how the movement come along after the depression of war. This is helpful in understanding the theories of the concepts.

The Many Guises of the Absurd- Week 2 notes (In bold at the bottom my feedback)

Recap of last week,

Camus said ‘unreasonable silence of the world’ talking about absurdity. Existentialism- lack of meaning in the universe, free will,big questions, how life is lived, doing not thinking about it.

The concepts of Existentialism-

  • Existence precedes Essence
  • Facticity and transcendence
  • Alienation
  • Authenticity
  • Freedom and value
  • Anxiety, nothingness and the Absurd

Existence Precedes Essence

Sartre says ‘ man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world- and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself’

What sartre is saying is we are born without an essence only when we grow up and experience the world and life around us we form our essence.

Atheist existentialists believe that man just is until he forms the essence of himself through his own endeavour in existing, thus existence precedes essence.

The freedom and responsibility of this produces anxiety and fear because, without God providing us with values and meanings, humanity is left alone without an external source of direction or purpose. Religious existentialists propose that god gave us free will and choice this gives us the notion that we are responsible.

Sartre proposes that it is wrong to categorise human existence with that of inanimate objects, he calls the difference between the two types of existence, unconscious being (being in itself) and conscious being (Being for itself). (We think therefore we are)

Facticity and Transcendence

Facticity is the fixed information by which things exist, date of birth, physical attributes.

Transcendence-the stance one takes towards their own facticity and the attitude towards ones self that is characteristic of engagement with the world or choice and free will, transcendence ‘goes beyond’

essence towards existentialism- facticity and transcendence has a balance- managed properly, calm and happy being in the world.

Children, are born and their essence developes by what they are taught, from teachers, parents family, we influence that.

Adolescence- brings and unsettling awareness that the comforting framework of values taken for granted as children is not fixed and unchanging…This moment is crucial. If, on realizing this, people refuse to accept their freedom in the face of the collapse of their childhood faith, they choose a life of self-deception. They choose to deny their freedom.” Robert Holmes, Professor of Philosophy, Rochester – Ethics, Social Philosophy and Philosophy of War.

Anarchy in the uk, sex pistols, outside of the established norms, authentic to your own beliefs.


third layer to this being, through transcendence we can only be subjective, we can only know the singularity of our own existence Only another can see the individual as an objective component of the world, it is not possible for him to see this for himself – he can only know his own subjective transcendence

We only know ourselves, so we only experience the life in our own world. In our head and how we are in the world, According to Sartre, emotional alienation occurs when we avoid experiencing our own subjectivity by identifying only with “the look” of the other. The consequence can only be conflict.

Shame, Peeping through the keyhole to listen in to a conversation about you, I have free will I waned to listen in and have responded to by doing so, but I am involved only in the subjective (my own desire and the resultant act) but if someone else appears behind me I am suddenly aware of my place within the context of the world, they can judge me and I can feel shame. Our own perspective cannot be objective for the notion of being for all of mankind.


For the existentialists this names the attitude in which an individual applies their facticity and transcendence or their conscious being to the objective world in which they exist. God cannot provide norms for us to live by Philosophy cannot provide norms for us to live by Free will and choice. Authenticity is the attitude with which an individual develops his essence through managing his facticity and transcendence in his engagement with the world around him.

A person’s behaviour becomes in authentic if their actions are for the sake of duty only and not thought about. Choosing to act in the same way changes things, we must own the dutiful act and commit to it. By doing so this is how we develop our essence. For Sartre any ruptures in the management of Facticity and Transcendence constitute “Bad Faith” or self deception This impacts on the individual’s ability to have meaning in their life and within the world. Existentialism approaches the question of value through the possibility of authenticity being an indicator of freedom of choice or ‘free will’.

Freedom and Value

According to the existentialists, existence is self making through our essence, and a value system has arisen entirely from a combined human essence or human behavior. How we engage with the world. Varying levels of consciousness, Alex the African Grey Parrot asked what colour am i? How do we know that animals are not asking these questions?

Anxiety, nothingness and the Absurd

Familiar existential themes of anxiety, nothingness and the Absurd need to be understood within the context of the worry about inauthenticity leading to a lack of moral values and the abuse of free will. Walking man, dragging his feet, firmly stuck to the ground. ‘Losing humanity and becoming a thing amongst the things he produces’.

Born of fear, feeling threatened or vulnerable but Sartre and Heidegger both separate fear from anxiety. Fear of a direct object within the world. Anxiety no direct threat. Anxiety occurs when there is a withdrawal from the practical engagement from the world, a retreat, if it is the practical engagement with the world and others that gives the individual a role and an identity and therefore gives meaning to life, then it stands to reason that the removal of this meaning leads to anxiety. According to Heidegger this anxiety comes from an individual’s lack of understanding of his own world view or his own self view. In other words… …If I have reached a point where I cannot maintain my essence then my own existence is meaningless… …Acknowledging that I am ‘not anything’ thus involves contemplating my own death…

Sartre argues that this anxiety produces a very vivid experience of the enormous responsibility of absolute freedom for the individual. Existentialism argues therefore, that human beings will expend enormous efforts in avoiding the anguish of freedom, which results in ‘bad faith’ or self-deception. According to the existentialists then, we are “condemned to be free,” which means that we can never simply exist. We must attend to our ‘essence’ continually make choices and continually commit in order to maintain authenticity. If we are inauthentic then there is nothingness.

I really enjoyed today’s lecture, I found it interesting to discover the concepts of the existentialism’s, I found it a lot to take in but when I re-read the powerpoints a lot more will make sense. I found the concepts to be quite true. I think I need more time to look over these points again, I struggled with the concept of being authentic and inauthentic because it could contradict itself sometimes. We have some reading for next week and I hope I can understand it as I struggle to read the longer words.