Practice in Context essay proposal feedback

Today I received my Practice in Context essay proposal feedback and overall it was pretty good.  I was reminded that the essay is about me to a certain extent and not to lose track of that, it was also suggested that I look at the work of Raymond Williams, the Welsh academic novelist and critic who wrote about culture and mass media.


London Trip


I have just got back from a trip to London; my visit had a dual purpose as on the first night I went to watch my daughter dance at ‘Her Majesties Theatre’ and on the second day I visited various museums and galleries as part of my M.A research.  During my visit I was looking for inspiration regarding my project, inspiration in terms of both technical and exhibition possibilities, alongside content information that could be used as part of my application?

The National Gallery

To start with we (me and mum) visited the National Gallery, which houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries, if you have read my previous blogs you would know that I am not the most arty art school student, in fact most of the time my appreciation for art is very low but I was strangely impressed with the art work on display.  Although I say I don’t appreciate art, my exposure to art in non-digital formats has been limited to say the least and having the opportunity to see these superbly crafted pieces up close had a profound effect on me.  In the past I have visited the Louvre Museum in Paris and seen the famous Mona Lisa and it left me feeling underwhelmed but when I saw Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; I was very impressed.  I have seen this piece on TV, online and in magazines but there was no comparison to seeing it up close and personal.  The depth of the brush strokes and the way it seemed to come out of the canvas was really quite striking, I also got to see Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors.  The sheer size of this painting impressed me and the anamorphic effect was very evident but the view from the other end of the hallway was even more impressive, the people depicted in the picture appeared to be like models stood in front of a background, rather than a flat canvas.  This depth of field effect was something I seemed to notice more and more in the paintings as I toured the gallery and it is something I intend to look at to improve my future imagery.

National Gallery Interactive Kiosk

I found four interactive kiosks of which only one was working at the National Gallery, the application featured on the kiosks was very impressive, it featured a large catalogue of paintings from the gallery and each painting had detailed information and high resolution zoom able, digital versions of the paintings, with interactive elements showing specific detail from each painting.  I was very impressed with this application (although I did manage to break it) and the amount and quality of information was far more than I expected, so it came as no surprise when I saw it had been created by a team of more than twenty people.  My own portraiture application that was featured at the ‘Hull Ferens Art Gallery’ paled in comparison but I believe this was due to the fact that the team of people involved in the National Gallery’s application had the specialist subject knowledge about the content featured in the application and I had to research mine in a short space of time.

Overall my trip to the National Gallery was great but the whole experience was slightly soured by an overly aggressive female attendant, who took great exception to me attempting to make notes, she yelled at me at the top of her voice across the gallery because I had to put my bag down in order to make my notes.  This brought my gallery experience to an end, as I was left in a state of personal emotion that was inhibiting my ability to gain the viewing experience I had been previously enjoying until the said incident happened.

The Science Museum

Next up was the Science Museum and this was right up my street so to speak (not geographically), practically everywhere I looked there were interactive elements.

The amount of interactive media was encouraging as an interactive designer but I was left feeling slightly underwhelmed, the interactive applications where good but I was hoping for inspiration or even astonishment but there was nothing that I had not seen before technically speaking, I knew how each interactive element could be reproduced.  This could be a positive thing as it may mean that my knowledge of my practice is now at a suitable professional level.  Visiting the Science Museum was a great experience and hopefully one day my work may be featured there.

The National History Museum

The National History Museum was next, this is a great museum and I found some really interesting well executed interactive kiosks, unfortunately there was nothing that was truly inspirational but there was one thing I particularly liked and that was the placement of business card sized flyers next to each kiosk, with links to further educational research, this helps the effect of the educational experience spread further and deeper and this is cool.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Considering the fact that the V&A is supposed to be an art and design museum, I found it to be the least useful visiting experience of the day, I saw very little in the way of design, other than the massive selection of wedding dresses that had no appeal to me whatsoever.  I also was unable to find any interactive elements at this museum, which I was surprised about as I thought this would be a great home for some examples of interactive design but unfortunately I was mistaken.  There was a separate side exhibition featuring more design work but this was only available to those who were willing to pay extra and by this point in the day and the little confidence the rest of the museum had filled me with, I decided against a further financial outlay.

The British Museum

I was most displeased when I visited the British Museum; this was the one museum in London that I knew housed Viking artefacts and to my dismay after such a long journey, that part of the museum was closed for refurbishment.  The trip was not completely wasted as I enjoyed the other exhibits at the museum, even if they were not relevant to my application.

My trip to London has been a valuable experience that has left me with a greater appreciation for art, an appreciation that I hope to develop in the future.  I am also left with greater confidence regarding my knowledge of my practice and I feel I now have a better understanding of my current level of knowledge in my practice and this will hopefully help me in my future endeavours.

New media’s relationship to older, established media

Interactive media is part of a wider umbrella term ‘New Media’ and it is my intention in my essay to compare how new media relates to older, established media mediums?
One of the books I have been reading is ‘New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader’.  This book is a wide-ranging compilation of theoretical works by top media scholars, examining the nature of old and new media.

It is not my intention in my essay to discuss the merits of differing media platforms, as I am well aware that there is often a worry surrounding my practice in academic terms, a worry that the technical merits and principles that make up a large part of my practice, do not lend themselves to academic writing.  I am purposely trying to avoid any route in my essay that may cause conflict between traditional academia and my practice.  This limits what I can discuss in my essay but another way to look at this, is that it forces me to focus my efforts in other areas.

In this book I have found a lot of very relevant information for my essay, which will not only fit well into a chapter about old media vs. new media but will also compliment the previous chapter about the lack of clarity surrounding my practice.

In my essay I am hoping to focus upon my practice as a form of media amongst other forms of media, rather than delving deep into any technical or design specific information that may confuse or bamboozle the un-enlightened.

‘The Media and Social Theory’ by David Hesmondhalgh and Jason Toynbee,

This book hosts the works of a range of different media analysts.

These works have been brought together by Professor David Hesmondhalgh

Head of Institute; Director of Media Industries Research Centre from the University of Leeds and Dr Jason Toynbee Senior Lecturer in Media Studies from the The Open University.

Chapters 8 and 9 have been the most relevant to me, I have not yet identified anything that I will definitely use, but here is a brief overview of my thoughts on these chapters anyway.

Chapter 8 – Rethinking the Digital Age by Faye Ginsburg

Faye Ginsburg is the founding Director of the Centre for Media, Culture and History at New York University.  To begin this chapter Ginsburg draws attention to an event in March 2005, when the United Nations launched the ‘Digital Solidarity Fund’, this was a programme designed to ease the digital divide by initiating projects to provide more equal access to information and communication technologies worldwide.

Ginsburg looks at the possible ramifications of introducing these technologies to indigenous cultures.  This is an interesting arc on which I could take my essay, looking at whether the freedom to have access to the information society would enhance or destabilise indigenous cultures, and I could examine how access to this information has affected the rest of the world who already have access.  This is an interesting subject but it does not feel directly relevant to my practice in context right now?  I am not sure if I will use any of the information from this chapter in my essay but I wouldn’t be surprised if it pops up later on in my project, on my blog.

Chapter 9 – Media and mobility in a transnational world by Purnima Mankekar

Purnima Mankekar is an author and teacher of Women’s and Asian American Studies at the University of California.

In this chapter Mankekar explores the relationship between media, mobility and transnationality.  Mankekar explains how the ability to travel far and wide across our world with relative ease, has created a globalised culture, and how individual cultural identities have been affected.  This chapter goes on to look at the possible effects of mobile media as a threat to cultural identity and as an instigator of social change. This could also be an interesting avenue of investigation but very much like the previous chapter, I do not feel the immediate relevance of this to my current practice context.

This book was very interesting but the extent to which it may inform my essay is yet to be decided.

Practice in Context Proposal

This module is my main piece of academic writing throughout my M.A, as students we are tasked with writing an academic essay that shows we can research our emerging practice within a broader global context.  We must use our intellectual thinking and our critical and evaluative skills to show high levels of conceptual understanding regarding potential professional contexts.

Today I handed in my essay proposal and I am happy with it, we will be getting proposal feedback soon, at which time I shall update my progress.

Click here to read my proposal.

Traditional ‘art school’ and academic investigative paths

When comparing new media and old media, an obvious investigational path would be to look at the sustainability factors involved in the various mediums.  Other obvious possibilities would include cost effectiveness, social implications, technological and evolutionary factors, cultural differences etc. but none of these are feeling right to me at the moment.  The aforementioned investigative paths are traditional ‘art school’ academic exploratory paths but I think that this essay is supposed to be as much about my practice personally, as it is about my practice in general and thus I am looking to make my essay relevant to me, even if this means avoiding traditional lines of enquiry.

I feel I must reinforce that my reasons for avoiding these subjects are to produce a more personally relevant perspective on the contexts of my practice.

Why is interactive media a misunderstood term?

It may be interesting as part of my look at why interactive media is a misunderstood term, to investigate why society needs to pigeon hole job roles?  I am not sure yet whether this would be an appropriate line of enquiry or a slight tangent that would lead me into wayward territory.