OUGD501 – Evaluation
I have very much enjoyed working on COP2 this year, I feel I now value the more academic structure of the Context of Practice module much more as it has given me opportunity to revisit the critical thinking and academic writing in new, more focused and refined contexts. I have found the COP2 module significantly more rewarding than the first year COP1 module, as I have been more actively engaged and focused with the area of research and inquiry. Choosing my own research focus made the process and response to the module far more informed and rewarding, and I especially enjoyed working on the practical aspect and tailoring it to my current design interests and concerns. COP2 has extended my knowledge of many significant movements that have impact contemporary visual culture, namely postmodernism. This area of research interests me greatly and I have been applying this inquiry across my other academic work within college and my personal endeavours outside of my education.
My research question built on an area of specific interest that I started to develop in my foundation year at Central Saint Martins. For my final project there, I investigate hypermedia’s and image saturated visual cultures and the impacts that they are having on wider creative practice. At that stage, I was really undertaking in depth contextual, academic research, all of my investigation was rooted in fine art practice. COP2 provided me with a platform to really delve deeper into related topics, exploring issues that I looked at very briefly in COP1. I was able to tailor my investigation to my current interests and concerns within graphic design, which I found really exciting. In level 04, I researched postmodernism in a very broad sense. I knew that I wanted to research further into this fascinating topic. I briefly touched on contemporary visual culture, looking at new wave aesthetics and underground movements such as post-internet art and VaporWave aesthetic, but I didn’t really feel satisfied with the level of analysis and research, so I decided to carry on down these lines of investigation for COP2. I looked into theories surrounding simulacrum and simulation last year, which was beneficial. These theories can be used to explain and understand current trends and attitudes within visual culture, so I saw it appropriate to explore them in a more critical, contextual way. Through reading important academic sources, including Baudriallard’s 1981 ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ and Jameson’s 1991 Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, I was able to gain a more intellectual insight into issues surrounding postmodernism and contemporary visual culture. My broad contextual research into these key theorists and varied visual research allowed me to develop a very strong essay structure. I found it easy to write a conclusion, but found it challenging to take the research topics forward to articulate them into a body of practical work.
I struggled for a long time to form synthesis between the very broad, abstract and quite intangible issues being discussed into a practical body of experimental visual work. I concluded in the essay that contemporary visual culture has become, for want of a better word, stagnant. I didn’t simply arrive at that conclusion based on personal views or attitudes. My conclusion was supported by key theoretical statements from poignant figures such as Baudrillard and Hutcheon, who were making observations about trends in visual culture in the 1970's and 80's. I found it fascinating that their investigations into this topic produced theories that seem to predict and foreshadow our current creative/visual culture. Importantly, I didn’t conclude that we have arrived at a state of pure simulacrum, nor have we entered into a total hyper-reality. The majority of commercial visual communication today is just that: commercial. Aesthetics here feel polished, sophisticated, but there are definite elements of expression and experimental attitudes that are prevalent in postmodern work that seem to have become popular, especially amongst graphic designers. What I found interesting was to look more closely at personal work produced by contemporary creative's, to see the wider impacts that they are having on visual culture. I concluded that visual culture has started to feel stagnant in the sense that things have been done before in terms of surfaces. It's as if designers are taking post-modernist principles and attitudes and amplifying them beyond recognition. Therefore, I realised that my practical work needed to attempt to make a comment on the state that I personally feel we are experiencing and potentially offer some hope for the future. The practical work in a sense, attempts to answer the issues highlighted in the essay, providing a solution to the bold conclusion that I came to.
Overall, COP has rewarded me in a number of intellectual, academic, contextual, conceptual ways. This module has been rewarding in the sense that it has encouraged me to forge new connections between theoretical and creative practice within areas of visual communication that I am passionate about. COP 2 has ultimately allowed me to establish new links between the theory and practice of my personal and professional work. Developing a research topic I have been completely engaged with has resulted in a contextually relevant research essay that has then been extended with thorough, well informed synthesis into a body of contemporary practical work that I am very proud of.