Constellation Summative Reflection

Constellation has enabled me to learn about topics outside of my discipline. This has widened my knowledge and what I have learnt can be applied to my subject. I have found it really interesting and useful to learn about new subjects and writing the essay has improved my writing skills. I have learned how to efficiently find books and reference them correctly in my writing which is an important skill to have.

For my formative essay, I was in the Body in Art & Design study group. I found the group challenging but extremely engaging and interesting. In comparison to this term, I think I could’ve started my formative essay a lot earlier and it would have been an easier process for me. I didn’t go to the library soon enough so I had to collect most of my theory in a big chunk, rather than doing a little bit each day to build up a body of research for my essay. Initially I found writing the essay quite daunting because I hadn’t written an essay in quite a while. I found that when I was writing my essay I sometimes found it hard to word certain sentences in a way that was suitable for an essay format. Eventually I got into it and found that I was on track to be over the word count by quite a lot. I decided the best method to get around this was to write everything that I wanted to say, then carefully read through it discarding parts that weren’t as relevant to the essay. I successfully got the word count down and had the essay up to my best standards by the deadline.

I have focused on the feedback I received for my formative essay to try and avoid the same mistakes for my summative essay. In my formative essay, I personalised some sentences with ‘we’ rather than sticking to the 3rd person. For this essay, I have tried to get out of this habit and stay with using the 3rd person. At certain points in my last essay I didn’t fully analyse some of the points I was making, so I have aimed to make all of my main points clear in my summative essay.

My study group for this term was based on Subcultures. I found this study group really enjoyable to attend. The lectures were interesting and covered a different topic each week. I found the way we analysed images as a class using the columns technique extremely helpful. I used this method for the images I chose to write about in my summative essay. This study group also made me feel confident in referencing and paraphrasing correctly as we practised it each week. This was helpful as when I came to writing my essay I knew exactly what I needed to do. At the end of each session we considered how what we had learnt about subcultures could be applied to our subject. This has helped me consider how what I learn in my Constellation sessions can be applied to my textiles work.

All of the subcultures we looked at went against the mainstream in some form, whether it be goths wearing black lipstick and white foundation or the punks dyeing their hair green and spiking it up. Having a huge list of examples like this shows me that taking risks can start new trends. These subcultures proved that mainstream fashion and beauty rules can be changed. I can consider these ideas in terms of textiles, being more experimental and taking risks will enable me to create more exciting work.

Another similarity in the subcultures we looked at was that they took a lot of their ideas from the past or something that already existed, but modified it to make it unique to them. An example of this would be punks using safety pins as jewellery and Teddy Boys taking the Edwardian suit and making it into a new style. Clarke, Hall and Jefferson (1975) referred to this as ‘re-signification’, and I can see how this theory can be applied to my artwork. They took certain parts of something and combined it with new ideas to create something that hadn’t been done before. This shows me the value in looking to the past to find inspiration. You can take inspiration from the past but modify it to create a new style, and I can apply this to my work in textiles. This could be in terms of materials and techniques used or looking to trends from the past and re-vamping them.

My favourite subculture to learn about in this study group was the punks. I found the way they used their style to draw attention to themselves and cause people to question society thought provoking. The punks are a perfect example of going against the mainstream and rebelling against the rules. They used their style to express their feelings on society at the time. I can use my textiles work as a tool to express my thoughts on current events and gain attention by being more experimental.

Constellation has given me a whole new area of inspiration, the thoughts put forward in the sessions provoke new ideas that can be applied to my practice. The keynotes are great to have a bitesize view into another subject. I particularly enjoyed the keynote on 60s Psychedelia which discussed Art Nouveau. The keynote looked at a variety of different artists including William Morris. We were also shown psychedelic posters from the 60’s which I found really interesting. Widening my knowledge with these extra subjects will be useful in the future. They might fit in perfectly with a brief or theme that I am set and I will already have some ideas based on that subject because of constellation.

The Punks

Punk Style Notes

  • Used ordinary everyday items like pins, bin liners, pegs, tampons, razor blades and lavatory chains in their style
  • Extreme makeup
  • Brightly dyed hair using food colouring
  • Zips and outside seams on show
  • Graffiti, fake blood combined with school uniform as an anti-establishment statement
  • Bondage clothing- fishnets, bodices, leather, belts, rubber, rapist masks, chains
  • Dancing – the pogo, the pose and the robot
  • Basic and angry shouting music
  • Outcast status
  • Piercings in places other than ears, this caused shock as it wasn’t mainstream prior to punk
  • Notions of beauty and acceptable behaviour trashed


Notes reflecting on lecture

  • Punks made political statements through their styles and action (just like the Zoot Suit, Hip Hop etc)
  • The punks changed meanings and functions of objects to shock people, they wanted attention and they wanted to cause outrage. For example, wearing tampons as earrings.
  • Subcultures went against the mainstream ideology and questioned things about society.
  • Subcultures wanted to cause change in society.
  • Subcultures used ‘bricolage’, taking objects and giving them new meanings by using them in an odd way.

Subcultures: Goths, Hip Hop, Zoot Suit, Teds

So far in my constellation study group about Subcultures and Street Style we have covered Goths, Hip Hop, the Zoot Suit and the Teds.

All of these subcultural styles have certain aspects in common. They all show that mainstream fashion and beauty rules can be broken and changed. For example goths using white foundation and black blusher, something not normally considered desirable. Many subcultures take inspiration from the past which is then modified or exaggerated to create a new style. One example of this is the goths taking inspiration from Victorian mourning dress but combining it with white face paint. (Steele, 2008) Another is the Teds adopting the traditional Edwardian suit but making the trousers skin tight, wearing suede shoes, vivid colours and having a long quiffed greasy hairstyle to go with it. (Jefferson 1976)

Subcultures can “counteract a dominant ideology” through clothing choices (Tulloch, 2006, p304) for example, the Teds were not conforming to the ideas of the British class system by adopting the aristocracy style as working class youths. Another example of this is the Zoot Suit being worn despite being illegal due to rationing regulations in the Second World War. This was a way of questioning America’s actions in the war and used as an opposition to White Power. They were making a racial statement through their clothing. (Cosgrove, 1989 cited in Tulloch, 2006) This shows that subcultures can disrupt establishment values.

All of the subcultures we have looked at take existing meanings and change them to create a new style. (Clarke, Hall, Jefferson 1975) One example of this is the hip hop subculture combining sportswear with big gold chains and Trilby hats. (Kellner 1997) These items would not usually be put together, heavy gold chains aren’t suitable to be worn with a running jacket if you were wearing the jacket for its intended use. The Trilby hat was  associated with upper class gentlemen wear, not rap groups like Run DMC. They wore Nike Air Jordan shoes and took all of the laces out, once again changing the intended use of staying on your foot for running and walking. The combination of all of these things creates the new style.

These ideas are useful to me in my practice, in terms of considering combining objects and materials that don’t necessarily go together to create something new. I will consider how the past and present can be put together to create new meanings and that I can change the meaning of an object based on its use rather than appearance. Inspiration can come from everywhere: clothing, music, culture, literature from any time period.

Affordance in Everyday Life


We perceive things visually and encounter the possibilities they give to us. Affordance is when an object creates a possibility for action. In this case, the arms of the glasses, the two eye frames etc. I know my glasses are for my eyes as there are two ‘windows’ that are slightly larger than eye size with glass in them. The glass suggests they should be looked through as it is clear, if they weren’t for looking through they would be opaque.
4a92f2ee59a371b8a7acd225dc9108f10The arms of the glasses are a possibility for action, they can move as they have hinges, they fold out and have slight bends in which indicates they rest on top of my ears. In the centre of the two windows is a nose shaped hole with the inner edges of the windows slightly raised out. This suggests to me that this part of the frame should rest on my nose, level with my eyes.


The Body & Textiles


Throughout this study group I have found that the subject of identity and gender are the most captivating for me. I can apply these ideas to textiles by thinking about ways I can question the norms of society in relation to identity and gender through my work.dc3a8d3b5a7c31153c7e6f77d5d917b2

I can do this by thinking of new ideas for prints and colours for both clothes and interiors. For example, is pink necessarily for a baby girl and blue for a baby boy? Are dresses and sequins and flowers just for women? Textiles is a great subject to question these ideas as it is everywhere around us!

Binary, Hegemony & Heteronormativity


I found some interesting excerpts from books in the library and journals online describing what this means. In the book ‘Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction’ by Todd W. Reeser I found a good definition for the word. “The hetero-normative imperative (the injunction to be and appear heterosexual).” The idea that the norm in society is to be heterosexual. From looking into it I have found that heteronormativity “within the ideological structure of patriarchal culture, heterosexual masculinity has traditionally been structured as the normative gender” (page 1, Constructing Masculinity), its the idea that society is built upon strict norms of two separate genders and that heterosexuality is the norm. – This article discusses everyday heteronormativity that we accept as normal. The idea that people don’t question standards, for example “men love sports and women love getting their nails done (but that women don’t love sports and men don’t like getting their nails done) is a gendered expectation based on the gendered binary.” – these things are passed off as whats normal or natural, the essence of heteronormativity.



The dominance of one social group over another, legitimising the norms and ideas of society. Dominant social roles over another group, for example masculine hegemony – men maintaining dominance over women. “Heterosexual hegemony is the dominance and control of one group over another, namely, the LGBT community. The norms and values of straight people are institutionalized and imposed upon gay and transgendered women and men. It is the assumption that there is only one way of being.” – this links to heteronormativity also.



More interesting ideas from the everyday feminism article, discussing how gender binary is the term used to describe only recognising two genders. Society norms can be disrupted when genders fall outside of male and female as it destroys the concept of a binary. Binaries don’t allow for anything in between.

‘Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction’ – “if we were to ask people what masculinity is, they might tell us it is something that men have and it is the opposite of femininity. This use of language is an assumption of binary opposition, an assumption that masculinity and femininity function together as a set of opposed terms.” – good example of gender binary.

“I know that I am masculine because I am not a woman, but I need a woman to know that I am a man.” – links back to Lauler, opposites that are unable to be combined and that rely on disidentifications.

“Why do most cultures tend to assume the idea of sex, to assume two sexes, and to assume them as opposite? The heteronormative imperative requires two opposite sexes.” We assume what the norms are, we should question them.

The Body in Art & Design: How Selfies Objectify Us


By posting this selfie, I have objectified myself. I am representing myself through my appearance by posting this onto Instagram for my followers to see. I can’t really explain why I posted it or what I was aiming to achieve by doing so. I suppose it’s something that my friends do and at the time may have given me some self-confidence by receiving likes. This is a perfect example of how social media is in control, we just follow the crowd and do what everyone else does to try and fit in. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook enable us to create the ‘perfect identity’ for ourselves. By using a filter on this photo I have tried to make myself look better than I appear in real life, a modern version of how in the past paintings would represent people better than they really were. We seem to parade our lives onto social media and it has become the normal thing to do. We try so hard to present ourselves online as an ideal version of what we really are, by posting edited pictures of how we look and bragging about how we live our lives in a great way. Social media controls the way we present ourselves to others, there has become an obsession with gaining followers and likes, but what do we really gain from these things? It’s all about gaining attention, popularity and how you come across to other people.