Category Archives: Dissertation


It turns out I celebrate handing in my dissertation by boisterously throwing up all night.

I can’t tell if it’s because I hadn’t slept in 48 hours and even then I had been running on 4 hours of fitful napping, or if it was not eating anything then drinking a lot or whether the nandos I had really was dodgy. Ugh what an awful night though (apart from my lovely friends of course).

I feel very weird now it’s handed in. Bit scared of looking at it again in case I find some of the unedited yak I forgot to take out. But yes, hurrah, it’s over now apart from the presentation and stuff. Oh my god I wish I hadn’t included the rough pdf version of the project too. Why why why did I think that was a good idea?

1 day till hand-in

Part of me is constantly delighted by discovering things like Umberto Eco’s essay “Opera Aperta” in the context of my artistic project based on the Impressionists under some of my research on art using new technology (I have long suspected that all the really cool talented people are somehow interconnected), and part of me is grabbing my brain and ramming it about my skull trying to extract one last drop of coherent writing from it and thinking “oh god let it please be over soon”. At the moment I’m on an upside, hurrah!

3am: My god, all of these authors reference each other. Nearly every single one mentions the other at least once in one of their books. I’m not really sure why I’m surprised by that as it should have become obvious to me by now that digital interactive art is an elite little nook that not many seem to know about, but still.

9.30am: Ack I seem to have 20 000 words instead of 10 000 in my report. How did this happen? Gah. Let the process of shoving as much as possible into appendices begin!

11:17am: When all this is over I intend to retire from society, a shattered broken woman. I shall be vague and delicate and whimper whenever I see particularly ugly things. Especially ugly colour combinations and bad typography; I feel very sensitive to them. And wistfulness, I shall cultivate wistfulness and a tragic air, and I shall be absent minded and forget what year it is and drink whisky from crystal decanters. Or maybe in fact I’ll make my millions by selling toasters to the masses and retire to a tropical beach to live my life surrounded by beautiful bronzed young men. They can fan me and bring me cold drinks and listen to me as I ramble on about complete rubbish like the inherent similarities between delicious strawberry sponge cakes and the current political climate.

2 days till hand-in

Is it an idiotic idea to add a seperate framed portrait painting to encompass Cezanne’s long grey beard in the artist profiles bit of my documentation (at the moment they are all headshots, but a seperate painting could very easily go underneath Cezanne’s head for his beard!), or is it the best idea I’ve ever had and one of great genius whose like we shall never see again? I think writing for the past 4 days solid has either driven me insane or brought out the da Vinci in me. Or both!

Oh also, I love writing evaluations

Edit 3 hours later: I hate writing evaluations

Edit many many hours later: No really. And another thing :

“temporarily collapsing boundaries between subject and object, interior and exterior, self and world – in order to facilitate a refreshing change of perception, thereby potentially resensitizing participants to the extraordinariness of being alive, sentient, and embodied, here now, among all this, briefly immersed in the flow of life through space and time.”

Who would have thought it was possible to use 8 commas in a block of text like that without the idea of anything so frivolous as, oh, I don’t know, a full stop maybe springing to mind. Man. (Not my writing by the way, it’s in one of the books I’m trying to decipher). My poor beautiful english, raped by pompous academics 🙁


I wonder why it seems so much easier to write straight into an html file without wordwrap than to write a proper word document? I think it has something to do with being forced to be recursive and re-read everything written, as well as essentially having two seperate views of what you are writing – the stylised version and the plain words surrounded by markup. A close up view of a sentence followed by a quick ctrl+s and a refresh of the stylised page with a view of it in context seems to make me concentrate much more on what I’m writing, for some reason.

Descriptive stumbling blocks

I don’t know why I dislike analysing texts (Shakespeare especially for some reason!) and paintings so much. I started loathing it when I was doing my art A-Level, and one of the reasons I like the Impressionists so much is that their art is straightforward and about beauty and colour and joy. Painting’s like Renoir’s The Jardin d’Essai just leave me breathless. I’ve got to the stage in my documentation where I have to start putting down on paper exactly why I love the particular paintings I chose and why they influenced me so much and I’m having such a hard time doing it.

Renoir's The Jardin d'Essai, Algiers - 1881

I do love the contrast of the aquamarine + teal and burned gold, I love how the flashes of silvery white add such liveliness and character; it makes the piece seem perfect. I think the buildup of textures and strokes is masterfully executed, but even writing it down in this blog in the most informal way possible makes me cringe a little. It seems to cheapen the art and make it less, discussing it. I do wish I could work out why I think it’s so, because intellectually I know that a group of people discussing what they love most about a piece of art means everybody gets more out of it; some people might spot bits other people haven’t noticed and so on.

I enjoy discussing The Wire and certain books and so on, it just seems to be visual/aesthetic things like artwork or video that I have a bit of a block with (and Shakespeare and a lot of the classics). This next lot of documentation is going to be painful.

This is dent to my determination to get it done is not helped by my evil evil housemate introducing me to Professor Layton and the Curious Village which is seriously quite scarily addictive. I have a terrible weakness for puzzles and this fulfils that weakness in a very big way. The art is really cute and the dialogue is either terrible on purpose or written by somebody with a very dry sense of humour, either way it makes me laugh a lot. I do like it.

Research books I have finished and analysed

Guido Ballo – The Critical Eye : a new approach to art appreciation
A laughably pretentious book which dictates the various forms of art appreciation the author callously catagorises with an attempt at scientific precision. There are several pages of the “Ordinary Man’s” responses to various artworks, among other things. I believe it is not necessary to have a firm knowledge of the social/cultural/economic history of a piece of art to appreciate it, nor does a person have to be well educated or refined. It’s about inspiration and intuition! How can that be catagorised! Well it’s about a way of looking at it I guess.

Francois Mathey – The World of the Impressionists
Interesting to read because the author does not hold back on his own opinions – or attempt to clothe them as fact (which I truly appreciate). It’s a heartfelt history by a fervent man who clearly has a great deal of knowledge and love for the art movement. The language is fresh and not even a little ostentatious, but of course because of this it could not be described as objective. The history bits are all interesting, and the art analysis even more so.

Donald E. Gordon – Expressionism: art and idea
This is much heavier going, delving deep into the political and social climate which gave birth to these expressionists – although it is pointed out in the introduction that is in fact a very silly term (it applies to several art movements, some of which are wildly different). Nietzsche and the Impressionists and other various influences are discussed in it’s 214 double columned dense-text pages. Interesting all the same though. although my interest is starting to lean towards the core of Impressionism and it’s culmination down the Van Gogh and Cezanne avenue which eventually lead to Expressionism.

Performance and Technology
A selection of formal essays about the role new technology has to play in art – with a focus more on dance/theatre than on traditional art unfortunately, but relevant nonetheless. The approach the academic authors take to their investigatory essays is generally coldly clinical, but I suppose this is inevitable for them to have standing and be published. At one point one of the guys was trying to analyse what made a game fun and it made me want to scream a little bit, it was so painful to read.

John Maeda – Maeda@media
Heavy on images and rough documentation for individual projects (so nice to flip through while looking for inspiration), kinda low on actual new-tech/art analysis/criticisms/thoughts. Nicely designed.

It feels like I’ve done a small fraction of my needed research, but time has run out and I have to start thinking of a few proper concepts if I’m going to actually come out with anything. More research generally gets done as I go along though, I’ve noticed with these projects.

Don’t even get me started on the amount of actual content either. It’s like panning for gold – it takes hours of concentration and like 50 pages of reading to get say 3 paragraphs of well written, concise and relevant analysis/content. I am totally not impressed, because I can write endless amounts of dross with a fraction of the effort and it will hold up more or less. It seems to actually think about things and write thoughtfully you really have to invest huge amounts of effort. How long will I continue to think meticulously about everything from the overall structure of my written analysis down to the position of each carefully chosen word in a sentence? We’ll see.

In other news, I’ve found that I love browsing random books in the library, just going there and sitting cross-legged on the floor hidden by the high shelves and reading textbooks and essays and journals and the like. I’d happily sink into a sort of knowledge-absorbing daze and emerge only for food and water. This interest in everything and anything (swapping from dickensian analysis to a musty biology textbook seems a matter of course) only materialises when I have other work I desperately need to focus reseraching on and can’t afford to browse though, unfortunately.

3rd year project/dissertation

These are disjointed thoughts I’m just keeping for myself, so I can remember what I’ve been thinking (because I seem to be going round in circles

So, I have this idea that when it comes to new media – not much of it is art. I mean it’s got a commercial basis. Which isn’t to say that art can’t have a commercial basis, but it gives it purity if it’s about conveying the artist’s social/political commentary, or his/her ideals or emotions, or, you know, just pure aestheticism.

There’s a lot more opportunity to give a lot more impact to whatever it is the artist wants to achieve with the new technology we’re starting to see more readily available. There’s more scope to get the audience even more involved.

I think looking at a straight kind of ‘port’ from traditional art to digital art is far too naive a way of looking at this kind of thing. Okay so, it’s a new media and it needs to have a wild kind of approach, but there’s no reason why I can’t take the fundamental principles from a movement of art like say, expressionism (or impressionism, these are the two I think would be really interesting) and look at them in a digital context. In fact, why not both of them?

Impressionism – from what I remember a lot of it’s all about the movement that goes on around us in the world, and the quality of light and so on.
Expressionism is all about manipulating reality to get certain emotional effects.

So, I could look at combining those two schools of thought and creating a digital [b]interactive [/b]piece of art.

Is it a really bad sign that part of me is going : What is the point?