The Fall and Rise of Constellation (PDP)

After another year of constellation has come to a close, I find myself once again writing a review of critique, evaluating what I have experienced, learnt and endured.

Another year has past since enduring two difficult constellations which were extremely frustrating. Both these constellations weren’t my own choice, I therefore believe that this was a massive contributing factor in my lack of enjoyment towards constellation. I also believe that my difficulty in constellation last year was due to the lack of interest, and irrelevance to my subject topic.

This year I brushed off the cob-webs and once again took to the internet at 9.00 am eagerly awaiting the sign up for constellation, my options were submitted, and I was positive that I would get one of the several choices I had made. Much to my surprise and disbelief when finally being assigned a constellation I was left with ‘Art, Science and the Construction of Reality’ which wasn’t one of my options. Although agitated by this, I vowed to go into constellation with an open mind.

In our first constellation of the year, I along with several of my pears sat in the lecture theatre eagerly awaiting our first lecture which began with a sequence of bizarre and pointless questions; although attempting to participate in group work, I along with several other members of the group felt way out of our depth with the philosophical ideas that were being offered by the lecturer. Whilst annoyed by this unfortunate constellation pairing once again I continued to attend lecture; although finding it harder and harder each time to get my head around what I believed to be absurd ideas.

With difficulty in my constellation I decided to take a different approach, and I attempted to make constellation into what I wanted it to be rather than what it was. I attempted to continuously relate it to my subject although almost impossible at times. I tried to to keep interest although after a few weeks, it was evident that I was not interested. During these weeks of torture I found the that for the first 10 minutes of each and every lecture, we were sat listening to absurd ideas, then for the remaining 50 we were sat teaching ourselves and bouncing strange suggestions and evidently wrong ideas between each other. It seemed less and less like a lecture and more like a brainwashing each time I attended.

When I didn’t think things could get worse we were told to go on a constellation trip to London to visit the Science museum. I once again attended as I believed it would be interesting and that the lecturer would be forced to talk us through the work which would give us an insight and would help whilst producing our very own constellation essay at the end of the term; during this trip we were left abandoned like a group of lost puppies looking around hoping for someone to offer some information and insight but once again none was given and the trip was pointless. In fact the most interesting part of the entire trip occurred on the way home whilst tuning into David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth 2’.

Another constellation had finished, another essay was submitted and I was once again left disappointed; until my first meeting with my dissertation tutor. In this first meeting I felt free from learning what I was assigned and finally able to look into relevant topics which would further my thinking as a product designer. In this first meeting we were given an abundance of time to talk about our previous work and topics of interest. This meeting restored my faith in constellation and was the first time that I felt excited to see what was to follow. Over the next few weeks I would look at a plethora of ideas based on what I would like to write about and look into in the near future. I thought about looking at innovation, technological developments, consumer culture, as well as a range of other topics. I then looked at what the list of ideas and attempted to find what all ideas had in common, and found that sustainability was a factor in almost everything design based.

I then researched the topic thoroughly and identified a series of sources that would be valuable to me whilst attempting to further my knowledge in the subject, these sources would also be extremely important whilst producing my dissertation research proposal. I found that with each book my thirst for knowledge within the subject grew and my thinking within the topic expanded. I not only found sustainability to be the issue, but rather identified contributing factors which were as much to blame for this crisis; I found that things such as education, current practices, psychological views as well as several other topics combined to create a web in which sustainability was at the centre!

This then furthered my reading once again and I began to become more interested in finding when the problem of sustainability had began to occur and why. Whilst doing this I also looked at the practices and cultures which existed prior to this and found that they were extremely relevant in the 21st century. This brought me to think that rather than advancing once again perhaps we need to take a step back. It also brought me to think about a quote from ‘Design as Future-Making’ by Susan Yelavich and Barbara Adams, in this book Cameron Tonkinwise states that “innovation is itself a deliberate act of destroying aspects of existence” (Tonkinwise, 2014, p. 201) this emphasises that whilst the world was evolving into that of which it is today, at some point it made the unknowing decision that prioritised technological advancement and world growth instead of prioritising sustainability.

This dissertation research proposal has not only brought back my faith in constellation, but has furthered my knowledge and made me excited about what I can find, and achieve whilst writing my dissertation. Finally I have the freedom to study something Im interested in!

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