Keynotes Term 2

02/02/17 Purple Haze – Art Nouveau in 60s Psychedelia

This keynote focused on how past concepts can resurface in new forms and is something which applies to every discipline. Although it focused on Art Nouveau in 60s Psychedelia, the key message was that we should not take work from the past and recreate it, but to take the concepts and features of past work and fuse them with your own style to create something new.

Art Nouveau in 60s Psychedelia was used as an example of this process. Art Nouveau was an era that began in the 1890s until the first world war. Its distinct style include swirls and natural motifs – no geometric shapes can be found. There were also women integrated into the design causing a confusion in the image as to where nature begins and the woman ends. The patterns of nature were also often abstracted.

The theme here was Metamorphic: The integration of the human figure and nature.

Key figures that displayed the style of art nouveau were explored in the lecture. It began with looking at Gaudi’s work, a famous Spanish architect whose work reflects the nouveau style within its structure from the curvature of the buildings to the beautiful stained glass windows.

There was also William Morris, a famous textile designer whose works were highly influenced by nature. He incorporated that through distinctive patterns creating abstracted forms.

Aubrey Beardsley was another, an illustrator whose work reflected anti-establishement. At the time the drawings were never really celebrated, but came to be of importance in the 1960s.

During the time of art nouveau it became known for its exploration of sex and sexuality and altered states of mind. This was known as metaphysics. There was a level of freedom and going against society.

This resurfaced in the 60s. One example is an image of John Lennon and his son standing next to a reworked Roles Royce. The Roles Royce traditionally symbols upper class and wealth, however, the painting alters that states and almost makes a stand. Another example is Lewis Carols’ Alice in Wonderland piece which has been influenced by Aubrey Beardsley’s work. This was the beginning of when past work was taken and restyled.

Even the typography began to change. It went beyond the obvious and went against the rules of legibility and its effectiveness to communicate was sacrificed for a visual representation of the experience of a rock concert. These were of course important aesthetic decisions, but the psychedelic patterns and exploration of the sub-conscience were all anti-establishment.

As we can see from these examples that the original art nouveau style was not simply taken and remade in the 60s, but was taken and reworked and reimagined, with the addition of a new style, creating something new and unique. The concepts and symbolism of art nouveau remained the same, but elements of its style did not.

This is something that we as practitioners should aim for within our own work. To look at the past and take elements and concepts and merge them with new ones to create something original and exciting.


09/02/17 ‘No Sex Please, I’m Sherlock’ Applying Academic Theory and Writing to Your Ideas

This keynote focused around ‘Where do academic ideas come from?’

As a case study Dr Ashley Morgan looked at the TV show Sherlock on BBC. In the clip shown, it revealed Dr Watson trying to get to know Sherlock through asking if he has a girlfriend or boyfriend. Sherlock, does not know how to socialise and thinks that Dr Watson is asking him on a date, which he states clearly that he is only interested in his work. As an initial introduction it reveals that Sherlock is an asceticist.

Asceticism in the past was mainly religious; i.e. when people would become nuns and monks and give up sex. Contemporary asceticism revolves more around the body; i.e. giving up chocolate or wheat etc.

It is questionable whether Sherlock is asexual (has no sexual desires or feelings) but it becomes clear throughout the show that he has a sexual nature and therefore we can deduct that he is an asceticist.

Sex is a symbol of masculinity. But how is masculinity portrayed on TV? It is often portrayed in a fixed manner – we understand them as masculine and heterosexual.

Heterosexual male values: married, employed, sometimes violent, wear suits and ties. Examples of this can be seen within other detectives on TV such as Lewis, Luther and Alec Hardy.

However, Sherlock does not fit these profiles yet we do not really question Sherlock masculinity. He demonstrates this through his homosocial partnership with Dr Watson (a relationship that falls just before sex), he is a hyper-intellect, he is a narcissist, takes drugs – but is not addicted, he has mastery over drugs and his clothing – it is ascetic and ambiguous.

This case study revealed the amount of reading taken around the subject and original idea and has allowed it grow and develop into an argument. It explores both sex and masculinity that began from watching an episode of Sherlock.

From this I have taken that as an academic student I need to around areas of interest. You am unlikely to find books or papers which directly relates, if so then you are simply replicating what someone else has said. It is important to make links between academic readings and your idea with your own writing.


16/02/17 Sustainable Design Thinking  – Key Strategies

We are living in an economy that has certain characteristics . The Linear Economy: Take, Make, Waste – this is not sustainable practice as it is based on fast consumption and intensive resource throughput. We as consumers consume on a fast rate.

If everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average US citizen, four Earths would be needed to sustain them.

The circular economy closes resource loops, slows consumption and therefore allows  sustainability.

80% of environmental impacts of a product or service can be locked-in at the design stage. This shows the impact and influence that designers can have on the economy and how people consume products.

Strategies to Employ

Rethink and Eco Innovation – Identify new and better ways of fulfilling customers requirements which are also better for the environment. It is about questioning the products to solve the problem in order to reach the final destination.

Dematerialising – replacing products with services or potentially services supporting products. Airing as opposed to buying products susceptible to technological obsolescence. Rethinking the benefits of services such as laundrettes rather than buying a washing machine. There are concerns that dematerialisation is an additional service, rather than replacing products.

Products are Important. We live in a physical world and so need physical objects, therefore what about extending the life of objects? This could help sustainability and reduce consumption.


Technological – when new models are introduced into the market, such as phones and iPods etc the old models are no longer needed or wanted. Also some products are designed to have a certain life span, meaning after that time they cannot be repaired, only thrown, leaving the customer going back to buy another.

Psychological – there are so many on products on offer that people feel pressured to buy something new and also are unhappy with what they have.

To conclude, if we keep in mind the impact that whatever it may be we are making has on the economy, consumption and the environment, then we can become more sustainable. We can do this by enhancing the relationship people have with their objects because it is harder for people to dispose of items when they have developed an emotional connection.


30/03/17 – Writing Your Essay

This session revolved around the essay itself and key pointers to note for when we come to writing.

  • You have to apply theory to a visual thing – something in the world.
  • Always think… What are you doing? How are you doing it? Why are you doing it?
  • The essay must have an argument – don’t just review ideas.

3 Key Things the Essay Must Have:

  1. Question/ Argument/ Enquiry
  2. Subject Matter
  3. Theoretical Context

You should aim to Describe, then Support that and finally Synthesise.

For each concept you should have 1-2 sources/ references to support it.


Reflexive Writing:

  1. Looking back at something.
  2. Analysing the event or idea.
  3. Thinking about what it means to you.

(either reflect on constellation or constellation + other things i.e. subject)

  • Reflection is an explanation of events.
  • Revealing anxieties, errors and weaknesses, as well as strengths.
  • Select most significant part of the idea.
  • Reflect forward into the future.

Final pointers for the essay:

  • Draft your work.
  • The intro is the last thing you write.
  • Say one thing well rather than lots of things badly.
  • Simplicity is key.

Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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