My experience of university as a postgraduate is vastly different to my experience studying an undergraduate degree. Surprisingly, this is not because of the different subjects (my undergraduate degree was in creative music technologies). No, the biggest change this time is that fact I now study in my hometown.
In hindsight, moving away at the age of nineteen to London held a greater significance than previously thought. The windows view changed, the sights and sounds of daily life changed and the ambient murmur of the night which kept me company as a finished each day smoking in the front doorway was very much different. I however, remained the same. I maintain that changing the view of my window offers but a mere fleeting token of progression, yet the eye of which observe these changes still keeps the old lenses of which viewed yesteryear and the perspective cognitions follow and remain.
As the years progressed the feeling of un-rooting one’s self and traveling became less of a focus – it was a kind of mental traveling which appealed to me. As I learn, practise and study, the metaphoric lenses of which I view the wold change. Suddenly it becomes possible to view the outside world through varying lenses, ultimately seeing new perspectives and many new things. Suddenly the view outside, the sounds, and the evening did not really matter.
After class one morning I stayed in the lecture room as everyone left. I looked outside and noticed how strange the city looked. I had never seen it from that angle. I soaked in the ensemble of buildings and roads outside and watched the streams of students crossing the roads. I realised I could have never seen this part of the city as this view exclusively belongs to the university.
On a personal level, I feel researching, and reflecting upon our related fields of knowledge could perhaps be about changing (and adding new) perspectives and ‘travelling’ so to speak? Through research and practise we are ultimately tasked with building growing field of inquiry.
We have been introduced to the concept of practise led research, which to my understanding is an approach to academia with the creative practitioner in mind. For example, through self-directed work, the practitioner can reflect on their practise in iterative stages. This in turn sets up a feedback loop – To engage in practise, one must not only create but take time away from the act of making to then reflecting on one owns practise. This could be in a theoretical, material or historical context. The outcome is perhaps a deeper understanding gained through reflection, research and documentation of work.
It has been demonstrated that much can be gained from this approach. In a guest talk held by Lara Torres demonstrated her approach to practise led research or PLA, whist at work on designing, Torres then started to explore and reflect upon her work flow and process. She explained that in order to understand the materiality of the fabric she was working with she then started working with completely different mediums such as clay, in order to sculpt and build.
There may be occasions when braking away entirely from our standard work flow can provide better insight and theoretical understanding of our practise and the nature of our work. It may be important then, for us to encourage our self to break away from the usual methodologies.
As a result, I am looking to follow in this fashion in my own work and practise. During the coming months at university I shall be taking advantage of the resources on offer and working with different methodologies and mediums. Maybe, the different approaches will teach me more about my work, and how to better it. Maybe, through theoretical and historical reflection I can then confidently move my work forward in more interesting ways.
Recently after reflecting on lectures and chats with other students I have started to understand that I have been taking part in PLA for quite a while now. Albeit unknowingly, also it is to be said because of this, the effectiveness of my own PLA is debatable. Through countless iterations of my work, it is the constant refection and contextualisation that has led me to believe that I have learned to do what I do, through a personal methodology that resembles PLA.
We were shown a film clip of a skateboarder attempting to pull off a trick. The film was a montage of his peerless efforts and gradual understanding of how to nail this trick grasped through each encounter said skateboarder had with the pavement. Each time he fell he learnt more about what was needed to pull off what he had envisioned in his mind. Eventually, he nailed it. He lands to much aplomb and his excited friends behind the camera shout with cheer and congratulations. This here provided the clearest example of iterative learning, a term learned in our last lecture. This is staged a moment for me. I began then, to reflect differently on my own practise retrospectively, and started to see connections with what had been discussed in the lectures with my own practise more clearly.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning the assigned research question given at the start of the module. Mine, concerns the material form and how this informs the end user experience. It is worth discussing initially the matter of materiality and the possible contexts. My thought was of course driven by the urge to assess the question on a material level. How can I discuss how the end user interacts with content when so much of what we view is through screens? With the pixel density of most smart phones far exceeding what is standardised for print, do we view an interactional experience on a smart phone screen to be akin to that exhibited with print media? Hopefully, through research and practise I begin to uncover new understanding of the matter.
I am trying to be open minded, though. I feel this attitude is an essential part of what is expected of us. I hope answering this research question is a journey, and through it a journey with many new interesting and inspiring views along the way.