Part 5 – Reflective Commentary

11 July 2017

Part 5 – Reflective commentary

Measurement against assessment criteria

In my blog post for Part 5, stage 7, I reflect in depth on the outcome of my process and final prototype/maquette for assignment 5. In this reflective commentary, I broaden my focus to the module as a whole, and target my response to the assessment criteria, course aims and outcomes.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

In the first four assignments, I acquired technical skills in surface distortion, joining and wrapping, moulding and casting and mono and collatype printing. 

For assignment 5, I took the concept of a constructed repeating surface and looked at ways of enriching it by applying distortion techniques. I considered scratching, and cutting flaps and holes, but in general, found that these processes detracted from the purity of the geometric shapes. It was a valuable lesson for me to understand that complexity can lead to visual ambiguity and confusion and do not necessarily an enhanced outcome. It I am glad that I was able reach this conclusion in time to change tack and adopt a more simplistic, minimalist approach.

Design and composition played an important role in selecting a concept and resolving it to a final prototype/maquette. I was able to apply my spacial awareness through drawings in my sketchbook, to understand how shapes could be joined and the impact of negative space and shadow. It took an appreciation of the role of light (and a degree of self restraint) for me to reject the two bold colour schemes which I had been working on in favour of an achromatic white surface. This allowed me to focus on the most visually relevant aspects of my sampling; light and shadow.

In assignment 5, I was surprised at the number of occasions when I was able to draw on my technical experience of and visual vocabulary from earlier parts of the course (for instance, I used my sketchbook work from part 1 to inform experiment 2.2, my knowledge of joining curves surfaces to create an undulating surface in sample 10, and my experimentation into holes from exercise 4 of project 2, part 1 to inform samples 1-12 and my final prototype).


In the first two-thirds of the assignment, my sampling did not produce the visual impact I was seeking. Looking back, I was perhaps too focused on outcome (which constrained my thinking). A tendency towards overcomplexity also played a part.

When I eventually did find a concept which excited me, I relaxed and was able to think in a more considered way. I realised that I had probably discarded some valuable ideas too hastily. I made a few “postscript” observations in my learning log/blog which show (retrospectively) how I might have developed these concepts into successful samples/outcomes.

In my final prototype/maquette, I managed to achieve my aim of capturing rhythmic fluidity in a three-dimensional surface. There is also formality and structure the piece, giving a sense of orderliness, whilst a tonal variation and shadow provide a visual element which can be transitional (subject to lighting and a suitable installation site).

Demonstration of creativity

In my final assignment, I extended my thinking beyond that of a two-dimensional surface; taking a sample which was fixed onto a flat piece of card and extending the idea into a supported structure in three dimensional space. Applying and extending the principles of Katsumi Hayakawa’s “floating city” (2011) allowed me to visualise this transformation.

I had wanted to place a greater emphasis on the inventive use of materials. However, despite identifying examples of materials for creative reuse, I struggled to find ways to incorporate them in my sampling. On reflection, I think this is because my experiments tend to be process rather than materials led.  In future, perhaps I could redress this by taking a material (e.g. old bicycle inner tubes) and presenting myself with the challenge of creating a constructed surface from it. In retrospect, I think this would have produced some very different ideas which might have helped to push me to be more experimental and risk-taking. 

This is the area where I have made the most important breakthrough; for the first time my contextual research had a direct and palpable influence on my sampling. Instead of just investigating, recording and drawing comparisons, I have been able to identify visuals, materials, and aspects of the nature of work to modify, adapt and apply to my own practice.
In assignment 5, I looked beyond textile practitioners and sought inspiration from architecture, and from sculptors who use light as their primary source of visual communication. I also looked to the influence of Japanese culture and sensitivities in the choice of colour, materials and form.
For my final prototype/maquette, I used ideas of the Japanese aesthetic adapted from the architecture of Shigeru Ban and Kengo Kuma to inform my concept. In particular, I considered the transient nature of light and shadow, the simplicity of shapes and the combination of natural and synthetic materials.
From artist Rana Begum, I took an interest in how people navigate and occupy three dimensional space, and applied features which would help viewer be aware of the space occupied by my sculpture (and the negative space within and around it). Specifically, being able to walk through my sculpture, having no single vantage point, and having it set on different levels, so that the same repeating element could be viewed simultaneously from more than one aspect.
Looking beyond the culmination of assignment 5 in a prototype/maquette, Shigeru ban’s installation “Ceramic Yin Yang” (2010) and Zandra Hussain’s installation “Numina” (2017) prompted me to consider the possibility of further development, either using selective,  and/or transient lighting or digital projection onto, or behind my sculpture’s surface.
Thinking ahead to my level 2 studies, a longer project should enable me to extend the value of my contextual research further. With enough time, I hope to be able to engage in targeted development of a technical process or to apply techniques from other disciplines which have not previously been used in a textile context.


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