Study Skills

Thursday 27th of November was the last day of our first term study skills rotations, these study skills sessions have been really beneficial in enabling us to better understand the ways of thinking, analyzing and writing that will useful for all areas both practical and theoretical of our studies.

On the 20th of November we had a session on academic writing and referencing, this will come in handy in particular when completing my essay on the controversy of the baby cage.It was helpful to have a reminder on how to layout and reference an essay properly as its been a while since I last wrote one! In this session we were asked to read the introduction of a past essay in groups and following this summarise the main points into a short paragraph – this I found to be particularly handy as I often struggle writing short pieces, and with the 500 word essay due soon it was a good chance to practise this necessary skill.

Our final study skills session last Thursday was really interesting and I have taken a lot from this session that I can bring forward to into my everyday practise. It was called ‘approaches to analysing visual and material culture’, its aim was to teach us how to analyse and break down an image before considering theoretical links, in order that we may better understand how to read art pieces. We learnt this through the system of ‘Caths Columns’, which taught us to break down an image by firstly describing the various components, then analysing the connotations that each component had before then having to research evidence in support of these claims. We put this into practise by analysing the imagery used in three of the James Bond movie posters – it was fascinating to unpick each individual element of these posters, and realising the social significance of each part of the imagery – this fully allowed us to understand the system and I am most definitely going to be using this when analysing imagery in the future – this session has made a massive impact to the way I approach images, I have found this session one of the most beneficial.

Study skills – Dadaism, Man Ray and questioning logic

This Thursday we had a study skills session with Mahnaz Shah, it was a session that I found really beneficial – it was all about the idea of questioning, and what is a question?
We were introduced to the fundamental idea that everything can be and should be questioned, and that the most interesting research areas are those that we think are simple but that we really want to investigate. It was emphasised to us that as artists we should not be satisfied with the ‘logical’ answers to anything, for example what is presented to us as a chair should not be blindly accepted as a chair but questioned, researched and investigated from various angles.
We looked at this notion through ideas present in the Dada movement, looking into the work of Man Ray. Dada’s intent was to reject the logic and reason of humanity – the logic and reason that throughout history has led to conflict and war. Dadaism wanted to challenge us instead to question and reject our understanding of what logic is, and begin to value the nonsensical and irrational over this.  This movement aimed to do this through artwork that allowed us to question our relationship between objects and people, examining the relationship between our ability to discard and use objects to serve their purpose and the parallel attitudes we develop towards people in the context of war.

Examples of the work of Man Ray

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Our task was to investigate the following letter, and to discuss in groups a potential research strand that we would take in investigating it,


This is a letter that Man Ray wrote in reflection of the events between the start of Dadaism in response to the horrors of the First World, and its apparent failure to make an impact on our attitude towards war after the Second World War took place.  We decided to pose the following question, ‘Can something be both alive and dead?’, we discussed whether something that existed and impacted our view on history can ever really die. A fixed point in history may not still be evolving and therefore be viewed as dead, yet at the same time its very existence in our understanding of history and what was built from it means that is always still alive.

I really benefitted from this session, and found it really interesting and challenging in the way it provoked a new channel of thinking. I feel that I can really take what I’ve learnt about questioning, researching and also the general notions behind the Dada movement and apply it to the current project of ‘Outside Inside’ that I am currently undertaking.