Part 2 – Project 3: Exercise 3

This exercise asks us to attempt a close reading of Dylan Thomas’ poem Fern Hill. The instructions suggest making an entry into your learning log and jotting down some notes as follows:

• What’s the mood of the poem? How does it make you feel?

The overall mood is light and happy. It makes me feel the freedom of childhood. At the end, however, the narrator appears to accept the fact that these days are gone, and the poem takes a turn for the more serious

• What poetic devices does Thomas use and what effect do they have on Read the rest

Part 2 – Project 2: Exercise 2

Can you think of any more examples of character archetypes? Have a think about it and then do some research to see if you’re on the right lines and to find out more.

From the previous section, we are already told about the mentor, sidekick, and shapeshifter.

My list also contained the hero, villain, protector, love interest, and the fool/idiot/comedy character.

In ‘The Writer’s Journey’, Vogler details ‘The Most Common and Useful Archetypes’ as:

Hero: The protagonist, or central character.
Mentor: Provides motivation, insights, and training for the hero. Helps alleviate doubts and fears. In a story, the … Read the rest

Part 2: Creative Reading. Introduction: Exercise 1

A quick exercise to start this section of the course:

  • First, write down all the reasons you can think of why people read.

To escape
To learn
To improve their lives
For entertainment
To heal
To remember
To relax
To build vocabulary
To fall asleep
To improve writing skills
To make choices

  • Next, write down a list of reasons why people write.

To entertain
To heal
To learn
To inform
To capture
To remember
To communicate
To preserve
To persuade
To improve other’s lives
To improve writing skills

  • What do you notice about your two lists? Do some of the
Read the rest

Project 3: Case Study – A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley

A Place Beyond Belief is a 2012 work by Nathan Coley which you can view on his website here. It’s described as illuminated text on scaffolding, measuring 6m x 7m x 3m.

We are asked some initial questions about it:

  • What’s your first response to this piece?

At first look, I thought it was quite cool. The lights look like those on an old American theatre, or a bit like the lights around those Hollywood dressing table mirrors that I’ve always loved. The text coupled with the pretty lights makes it look like it could be the entrance to … Read the rest

Project 3: Exercise 2 – Developing Your Research Skills

This exercise asks us to look at the work of Katie Paterson, particularly her piece Vatnajökull (the sound of).

We are asked how we would define this piece in terms of media, and told to make notes on the different layers of existence, the forms it has been displayed in, how it’s a genuinely site specific piece (unlike Longlayer from Project 2), and on Vatnajökull’s relationship to place, as well as Paterson’s use of text.

Firstly, I would categorise the original piece as mixed media. It is a sound installation, but there is also the neon phone number displayed … Read the rest

Project 3: Exercise 1 – Place

This first exercise asks us to read the opening essay in Place (Dean and Millar 2005, pp. 11-26). We are told to try and get an idea of what the authors are saying, to reflect on how we found the exercise, whether we agree with what the authors are saying, and whether the piece has expanded our understanding of what the word ‘place’ can signify.

Firstly, I found this exercise difficult for various reasons. At a basic level, I have never read such a long piece of writing relating to art in the way this one does, and the vocabulary … Read the rest

Exercise 2: Interpreting Video Art

This exercise asks us to watch the video of Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life here: http://samtaylorjohnson.com/moving-image/art/still-life-2001 [accessed 13/03/17]

The main aim of the exercise is to write down our understanding of the piece in 250 words and explain what we think Taylor-Wood wants us to think about or experience from watching this?

There are a few questions we are told to think about:

  • Your initial response after first viewing

It took me a while to realise what the piece was about. Not a lot happens in the first 44 seconds of the 3 min 44 sec video and I fast forwarded … Read the rest

Case study Interpreting sound – Longplayer

This case study looks at a piece by Pogues member Jem Finer. It’s really a musical work, but could also be considered an installation and a performace piece. It started playing at midnight on the 31st December 1999 and will play for a thousand years. The ‘song’ is made up of 6 different versions of a 20 minute, 20 second score written for Tibetan singing bowls. One of the pieces is the original, and the others are transpositions. One is an octave below, one 7 semitones below, one 5 semitones below, one 5 semitone above and one 7 semitones above. … Read the rest

Exercise 5: Finding Out More

This exercise asks us to watch/listen to a discussion from the Khan Academy on Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde piece (here).

We are asked to make notes, paying particular attention to the following:

• Hirst
• the piece
• Hirst’s other work
• information on other artists whose work is concerned with mortality
• references to ‘time’

There is a transcript available under the video, so I won’t type up all of my notes, but I will mention the information relevant to the ideas above.

With relation to Hirst and the piece itself, a lot is said about … Read the rest

Exercise 4: Looking at Context

This exercise asks us to look at Damien Hirst’s 1991 piece title The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. The work is essentially a steel and glass tank filled with blue formaldehyde and a suspended shark. The piece is also referred to as ‘the shark in formaldehyde’.

We are asked to answer to following questions:

• Write down a few words giving your first reaction to the piece.
Weird. Scary. Ugly.

• Do you have an emotional response to it?
The thought of the formaldehyde makes me feel a bit queasy. The work in general … Read the rest