The study group I chose this year was Ashley Morgan’s “Stuff and Materiality in Society”. This was my first choice, so I am happy I had the opportunity to explore exactly what I wanted in more depth and learn more about material culture, which is a very relevant theme for me.
Being involved with Graphic Design I ask myself questions related to this topic more and more often, because the main tool of selling nowadays is Advertisement. I am interested in people’s relationship with objects and how they perceive them, what makes them see possessions as valuable and motivates buying.
The whole module was very interesting to me and challenged my views, showed me different perspectives and definitely provoked deep thought. I caught myself noticing things that I would not previously notice in everyday life, examining standard situations that we are used to and looking in more depth.
Having a different cultural background helped me in my efforts to imagine different views in relation to material culture, because in Bulgaria the things are not quite as they are in the UK. I had noticed many differences in people’s attitude towards material objects, but after the module I was more informed about the reasons why this is so. Going in more depth about those differences is a theme that I find really interesting, but it is not a subject of this post’s topic.
The practical exercises that we had during and after each session helped me assimilate all that we had learned previously and see a real implication of the otherwise theoretical lessons. They were of an extreme significance to me and I am happy that Ashley gave us small tasks for each session instead of huge ones every two weeks or at the end of the period. They definitely helped me learn more efficiently.
When it comes to the Dissertation Proposal that we had to write, I can confidently state that this was the biggest challenge that I have faced during my stay in the university. As I decided to do go on an Erasmus exchange programme for half the academic year, I had to write the proposal in Venice.
I chose to write about something that occupies my mind anyway.The main topic is whether we need design at all. To answer this question I wanted to look at its role, history, impact. I wanted and still want to learn more on the topic and be clear on my position. It is also relevant to what I learned earlier in the Constellation study group.
To me, many aspects of this writing experience were challenging. First of all, settling in and getting accustomed with the city and the university as well took a lot of effort because I arrived in the middle of the year when all had already begun, so I kind of fell from the sky in the middle of something, not knowing what’s going on.
Furthermore, the fact that our education here is in Italian made things more complicated, because my Italian level requires spending a lot of time learning vocabulary and grammar, so that I can be an active student and engage with the material as fully as possible. Moreover, going to lectures and working on assignments requires a lot of time too.
However, what I considered most challenging was the fact that here we had no access to the university library and had no tutorials with our allocated tutors. These two things were absolutely crucial and I really regret not having them, because I am absolutely sure that they would have influenced my work in a really, really positive way. Even though the online library base is extremely rich and was of a significant impact to my proposal, it was not enough for me because I am a visual learner and I prefer physical books, touching pages, browsing the library to find something I didn’t know I actually needed. So this is why I see Metsearch/Summon more as a supporting tool rather than main source of information. Also, most of the online sources that I used were articles due to the fact that there are not many books uploaded. Having in mind that this dissertation proposal’s most significant part was research and reading, not having access to the library was definitely a stumbling block and make things a lot harder.
The lack of tutorials and guidance was the other thing that was crucial to me. Even though I read all the materials uploaded on Moodle (that I am really thankful for) and not only went to the three lectures explaining the essence of Dissertation writing, but also listened the recordings over again many times, I feel like I would have been happy to receive feedback on whether I was on the right track or not. Building the whole dissertation plan was really hard for me and I am not even sure if the outcome is what I aimed for initially.
I am planning to discuss my proposal in depth with my tutor as soon as possible and I hope that what I wrote is at least close to what was expected of us, because it took a lot of effort in the situation that I am currently in.
Overall, my Constellation experience in the second year helped me learn a lot of things that I believe are really closely related to my Graphic Communication practice, and will have a huge significance in my future.