Constellation – Pets Task

For Critical Practices in Art and Design, we are required to carry out a ‘Pets Project’. This is to compare a philosopher wth a designer/artist’s work and consider how the philosopher’s ideas can analyse/understand/critique the artist/designer’s work.

The philosopher I chose to research was John Locke. He was an English philosopher and physician, and was widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers. He was considered as one of the first British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory.

His theory was that everyone is born as a clean slate (Latin: Tabula Rasa), and that their knowledge of environments come primarily from sensory experiences over time, and that without these experiences, gaining any form of knowledge would be impossible.

The artist/designer I chose to research is Felipe Pantone. The piece of work I chose was Wall at Mural Festival.


This piece of work shows Pantone’s sensory life experiences:

  • Colourful liquified patterns show experience of visuals of the light spectrum, and visuals of liquified materials. 
  • Black and white twist shows experiences of 3D objects, maybe even a slide? 
  • Pixelated black and white patterns show experience of digitalised objects on screens like computers.
  • Black and white horizontal and vertical lines show experience of the horizon of land (horizontal) and vertical lines show experience of seeing a vertex (highest point of something) of something, like a tall building or mountain. 
  • Text shows experience of reading and/or writing.
  • Wavy shapes show experience of natural processes like wind blowing an object like a flag. 


Humphries, T. (2019). ‘Pets’ Brief.

Pantone, F. (2019). Wall at Mural Festival. [Spraypaint on brick wall] Montreal, Canada.

Critical Practices in Art and Design #3

In the third week of Critical Practices In Art & Design, we focused on how this study group could be linked back to our own practices (Graphic Communication). Firstly, we looked into the word ‘process’, and how it features in our practices. We were then asked to define the word. Daisy, Shannon and I came up with ‘a series of tasks from start to finish that results in a completed piece of work’. We were then asked to think of a process within our practice. I thought about letterpress, as this involves a method. For example, setting up the tray, setting the letters, choosing the letterforms etc. at the end of this method you have a finished product. Theo then asked us to use Osborn’s checklist for transforming ideas to change just one thing about this process, which will result in a different outcome, and give the process a new meaning.


I chose the word replace. For this, I thought about replacing the printing ink with another substance, for example molten metal. This would give the process a very different outcome, and might not even work. I also chose the word remove. I thought about removing the choice of letterforms, and instead choosing a random selection without knowing what you were going to pick up. This transforms the process to become (at first) meaningless art, that can then be deconstructed and evaluated.

After this, we studied artist Dominic Wilcox who wrote and illustrated a book called Variations On Normal. The book is about looking at things alternatively. For example, he illustrates ‘hill walking soles’ which are interchangeable right-angled shoe attachments that make walking up hills easier. The book illustrates many of these strange ideas that are thought-provoking and engaging to the reader, which fits the critical model.

Additionally, an idea we looked into in terms of sustainability was creating things that have less of an impact on the environment. Like things for consumers, humans against non-humans. We focused on a sushi delivery, where the container of the food came was made from spiky, bright green plastic. Because most plastic in the world ends up in the seas, it was appropriate to create a shell casing that could be put to other uses once thrown away. This green plastic casing could be adopted (and adapted) by a hermit crab which would then be safer from predators, and also have a second use for the plastic.

The transformation of processes links clearly to Graphic Communication, as this is what we aim to do all the time. We aim to transform people’s views, opinions and thoughts through different engaging processes.


Humphries, T. (2019). Week 3 ‘Your Practice’ Lecture.

Osborn, A. (1957) Applied imagination : principles and procedures of creative problem-solving. New York : Scribner

Wilcox, D. (2014). Variations on normal. London: Square Peg, p.Propellor Scarf, p.Hill Walking Soles.


Critical Practices in Art and Design #2

In the second session of Critical Practices In Art & Design, Theo opened the class by showing this video ( by the designer Ai Hasegawa for her synthetic biology project called I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin. It’s a very unusual video which has a simple concept that imagining a woman could carry and give birth to another species,  (a dolphin). This show the idea of speculation, and how nowadays, women are said to have a biological clock, which is a set time by which they’re supposed to have given birth by, almost as if being young and not having children is a waste of life. This thought was linked with endangered species. Hasegawa combined these two contrasting problems to raise awareness that these species are becoming endangered very quickly, by also showing the pressurised feeling women get to have children by a certain age or to then become ‘useless’. Hasegawa was very serious about her project, by encapsulating materialising possibilities. She isn’t suggesting that people should actually do this, (although the detailed science research behind her work shows that it would be easy to do). She is instead asking us to ‘think about this’ – by asking this, she’s creating a rhetorical object.

After this, we looked into a term named ‘zeitgeist’ which translates to, time (zeit) and spirit (geist) in German. This term can be used in any subject area across the school, as it simply means using things – this could be materials, ideologies or behaviours from the past. Artefacts that exemplify a certain era, such as the link between neon colours and the 90’s, peace, love and the hippie style to the 60’s. It’s expected that in many centuries to come, our generation will be remembered for its plastic usage and disposal. In short, zeitgeist is our understanding of something due to our exposure to it.

We were then shown a a very lifelike portrait painting. Theo firstly showed us this image:

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 19.31.06.png

Nobody recognised the artist. When Theo told us that it was the early work of the artist was Picasso, I was really surprised, as the only style I knew Picasso to have was abstract, unrealistic and cubist. More like this:

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 19.33.38.png

A lot of people think that Picasso is incapable of creating realistic paintings, and most would therefore think that he painted this realistic piece of work after his abstract work to ‘prove’ that he could. However, he did it in the opposite order. He was abstracting away from reality, which links to Critical Practices Of Art & Design. This makes viewers engage with his work and ask themselves ‘why did he do that like that?’. It opens a debate to what type of artwork is ‘best’.

The next topic was conceptualism, which makes a viewer think carefully about a message someone or something is trying to communicate. A great example of conceptualism is Banksy. In October 2018, the Girl and Balloon was auctioned and sold for £860,000. As soon as the piece sold, the frame began to shred the painting, stopping halfway down.  Banksy was trying to communicate the message that art shouldn’t be something people should buy to put up on their walls in their home for no real reason, and that it’s in fact about creating art for enjoyment and satisfaction. Banksy’s only way of rejecting the establishment is to sabotages their attempt to profit from his artwork. Conceptualist artists and designers’ aim is to change the way others see the world, and the process of this is amazing.


Humphries, T. (2019). Week 2 ‘Key Players’ Lecture

Hasegawa, A. (2019). I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin…. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2019].

Critical Practices in Art and Design #1

Today was my first Constellation study group session with Theo in ‘Critical Practices In Art & Design’. In short terms, this group is very different to my previous group (After Modernism) in a way that it could easily be applied to any Art & Design subject, rather than focusing in on one type. I think that the study group will aid me to assess art and design in a completely different way to how I previously have. As an initial thought, I’m already more interested in this study group  than I was with After Modernism, because I feel that it’s much more relevant to Graphic Communication.


Theo presented a broad introduction to the option and began to build some key definitions concerning critical practices, taxonomies, and histories of ideas. We explored the option assignment and ethos, and he advises us how we can get the most out of the group.

Firstly, Theo gave us an insight into what he’s achieved as an ‘artist and designer’, which was really interesting and inspirational. He also showed us a list of just some of the different role names his practices have come under, such as; artist, designer, Design consultant, product designer, interaction, UX designer, UI designer, graphic designer, information architect, author, critic, illustrator, artist, poet, photographer, cross-stitcher, film director, company director, editor, salesperson, teacher, manager, trustee, and many, many other roles. This reinforces that Theo’s work is not Art or Design, but a combination of the two.

We began by looking at what it means to be ‘critical’ and what it means to be ‘affirmative’. I learnt that to be critical is to design for debate, for designs/art to be though-provoking and engaging, whereas to be affirmative is to design for production, to have a standard view on things.

The following quote by Dunne & Raby explains what it means to be critical to these people:

Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life.

It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.

Its opposite is affirmative design: design that reinforces the status quo. – Dunne & Raby


Another example of criticality is the mini task that Theo set. We were asked to pair up to find an example of something that we can be critical about. Daisy and I found this image:


In order to think critically about this product, you must think about how practical it would be if you were to try to use it like a normal tea set. You can’t help but try to visualise what would happen when you poured the tea into the cup, and what would happen if you tried to drink from the cup. By comparing the object to an everyday, ‘normal’ version of the object, you are thinking about it critically. By removing the practicality of the object (by stretching it), it the removes the affirmative aspects of it. The tea set has been designed in order to make its audience think about it and visualise how it would work, it wants to be engaged with, and it would be much more engaged with than a normal tea set.

Task: Pets

i). Identify a ‘philosopher’ (alive or dead) and begin to familiarise yourself with their ideas.

ii). Identify an artist/designer (doesn’t have to be from your subject, and can be alive or dead).

iii). Identify a single image of that artist/designer’s work.

iv). Consider how the ideas of your pet philosopher might be used to analyse/understand/critique your pet artist/designer with reference to your image

v). Present your consideration to the group (details to follow)

Your presentation should only be one JPG and take no longer than two-minutes of talking.


What I learnt in this session:

  • The significant different between Critical and Affirmative.
  • The differences, similarities and overlap of Art and Design.
  • Dunne & Raby are famous ‘Critical Thinkers’.
  • Critical Design isn’t ‘just art’, because it has meaning and aims to be engaged with.


Humphries, T. (2019). Week 1 ‘Key Ideas’ Lecture.

Kamprani, K. (2019). The Uncomfortable is a collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects by Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani. | a r t | absurd | Pinterest | Design, Everyday objects and Art. [online] Pinterest. Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2019].

Constellation Week 6

The sixth week of constellation featured conceptualism. 

Conceptualism is art where the idea or concept for the artwork is superior to the finished outcome. It began as an art movement in the 1960s, and usually refers to art made from the 1960s to the 1970s. The idea was to take things that nobody else had ever created/done and justifying it. They used ready made objects and justified them as art. For example, Duchamp takes something that already exists, puts it in a gallery, and therefore it’s art – ‘I say it’s art, therefore it’s art.’. His idea was that people pushed the boundaries of what was considered as art – ‘Whats the difference between a photo taken for a newspaper and a photo in a gallery? There is no difference’.

Kosuth – The function of art is to investigate the concept of art. Formalist art is barely even classed as art because it accepts the normal concepts of art, without investigating further. Therefore, it’s not real art, it’s purely aesthetic, it’s just decoration.

Constellation Week 4

The fourth week of constellation looked into Minimalism. 

Minimalism is an extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the 1960s and typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle. It usually features hard, sharp edges, and repeated shapes. Minimalism can be seen as expanding the abstract idea that art needs to have its own identity and isn’t an imitation of some other thing. We usually think of art as representing an aspect of real life (for example; a landscape, a person, or even a tin of soup!) or reflecting an experience such as an emotion or feeling. With minimalism, no attempt is made to represent any form of reality, the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them. It removes any emotion or gesture from the artwork. There is usually no sign of movement in the pieces. The medium from which it is made, and the form of the work is the reality. Minimalist painter Frank Stella famously said about his paintings ‘What you see is what you see’. This means that there is never any hidden meanings, illusions.

Judd thought that the best works were not paintings or sculptures, but related to them. He thought that the best works where when no set guidelines to follow.

Talking points included:

  • Why was minimalism seen as an alternative to Greenberg’s ideas of modernism?
  • Is minimal art meaningless?

Constellation Week 3

The third week of constellation focused on Fluxus.

Fluxus was an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. The Fluxus began as a small, yet international network of artists and composers, and was characterised as a shared attitude rather than a movement. Rooted in experimental music, it was named after a magazine which featured the work of musicians and artists centred around avant-gardecomposer John Cage. It’s worth noting that Fluxus happened by chance. The network themselves didn’t name it Fluxus – the news and media did. Fluxus is not a set movement, because it’s constantly changing. It reflects the most avant-garde tendencies of a time.

Fluxus was opposed to war, european culture and standards of beauty. It was both irrational and chaotic. The network aimed to overcome the distinction between art and life by using unusual methods of art and music composition. It explored music as art (for example the Piano & Song Sheet). This demonstrated that audience interaction can also be viewed as the art itself. Artist revolution is part of a wider, political revolution. It rebelled against traditional methods of art by using new, unique and innovative ideas. It aimed to ‘avoid having top tight an ideological line’.

Talking points for the Fluxus topic include:

  • Fluxus opposes Greenberg’s ideas of each art being autonomous.
  • Fluxus is similar to Oldenburg’s theory that art is everywhere in everyday life (however they did want to purge commercialised art).
  • Maciunas is speaking for a group, in contrast to Oldenburg’s independent thought.
  • Fluxus seems to be unorganised, living in the moment as a response to everyday life issues.
  • Fluxus is an underlying influence of surrealism and futurism.
  • It is similar to futurism and dadaism (however is less undirected).
  • Fluxus is a response to war, politics and social standards.

Constellation Week 2

The second week of constellation focused on Pop Art and Consumerism.

I looked into the correlation between Pop Art and Consumerism. I learnt that the two were both interested in the idea of a culture pyramid, showing different levels of culture due to the accessibility and popularity of the subject. For example, Picasso being at the top of the pyramid, having a high cultural class, and a low number of people in this class, and on the other end of the pyramid was Elvis, a low cultural class and a high number of people. In contrast, I learnt that the two portrayed Coca Cola being the same thing to the President as it was to a homeless person. It’s still just coke.

I also learnt about advertising and imagery within these movements. They express the hidden truths of advertising, TV, taste and general culture. Brand loyalty also played a big part in the consumerism movement, for example, people buy Heinz beans to show who they are as a person (rich, modern, sophisticated, educated), instead of the cheaper, ‘everyday value’ beans because they are afraid of being embarrassed by their choices. The famous ‘I shop, therefore I am’ piece of artwork was shown here.


Constellation Week 1

Last Thursday was my first Constellation session with Jon. My allocated topic for this term is After Modernism. In this session we learnt the layout for the next few weeks and learnt how the constellation system works.

The first week’s theme was Abstract Expressionism. In this session, I understood that Abstract Expressionism was a form of post-war art. Artists wanted to create different, new, unique forms of art. For example, Pollock‘s impression of spontaneity. These type of artists were inspired by the surrealist idea of subconscious and cubism as a response.

Pollock‘s three rules of a ‘painting’ were that it had to be flat, 2D. It had to have properties of pigment. And finally, it had to have an overall rectangular/square shape.

Greenberg was another example of an abstract expressionism artist. He frequently used self-critique and self-definition. He believed that the materials and methods that he used were more important than just the beauty of the outcome. He also enjoyed the fact that art was being kept alive and was progressing because of the questions about it that couldn’t be answered (modernism).

Kant was the first modernist because of his self-critical tendencies.

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