Thursday, 31 May 2007

Essay Ese

I got the results back from my last essay - I can't remember if I posted about this at the time, but I finished the essay 4 hours before drop-in deadline, as one does, and after I submitted it I was so convinced it was shit I was too scared and embarrassed to read what I had written. So I didn't - and it's been saved on my computer but not accessed since the 17th. Anyway.

Earlier I checked my results, with a conviction that if I got a 55 I would be pleased.

I got an 82. A comfortable A+.

Cue the huge fucking heart attack.

And yet... I feel guilty somewhat - because I chose a subject which I knew my lecturer would respond well too and apparently she did. But by saying that, it makes it seem like I am some master manipulator - which is not the case. It also seems that I'd be undermining my lecturers ability to give an unbiased and reasonable assessment of all work, if I was to say that the mark I received was purely because the subject matter. A friend of mine also wrote an essay on a subject the lecturer is known to appreciate - waste & consumerism - and my friend got a 72 on her paper.

...I totally just answered my own doubts. Gross.

But if my argument against myself is right, it means that my style, writing ability, depth of research and ability to communicate my own opinions while citing professional academics (what's the shorter term for that?) are for this one paper, either higher, more refined or of a greater ability then that of other people - regardless of if their subject matter is sympathetic to our lecturer or not.

Oh God: I am overanalysing everything.

Grading systems don't bother me when it comes to essays, because writing an essay is a scientific art -- there are rules, conventions and methods that are set out. Writing an essay is like playing a game, or dissecting a body - everyone has their own special theories on the best way to go about things, but all and all you have to follow rules, and the outcome is not objective.

But when you're grading something like, say, a painting or a media installation - in short a piece of artwork - it's so conditional and based so heavily on aesthetic taste, that it becomes a matter of trying to communicate something that, you can't communicate. A problem of qualia.

So whenever I have to be assessed on an artistic creation of mine, I feel like my stomach isn't filled with butterflies, but centipedes - I almost become autistic when having to take a peer group assessment - something surely devised by Satan himself, where all members of the group who've worked on a project must band together and tell one another what they think they deserve for their input on the project. Christ, it's like Big Brother Elimination's for Sociopaths. I can't look anybody in the eye and wring my hands together silently, making occasional groaning noises as I chew my lip and sway uncomfortably. ANYWAY.

I think it's universally 'easy' to judge a piece of writing - communication is a formalised art. But art as 'art' can be, so much more difficult -- and it's because you cannot always read intention and effort from a single piece of symbolism. For me, everything I create is a sort of extension of my thinking ability -- it might be a man talking about aliens, but in me it sparks off so many patterns of thought that I impose this whole other layer of meaning over it -- and... I can't communicate what happens.

Of course I try; filling sketchbooks with explanations, giving presentations and telling people how I reached each artistic decision and why they connect to this and that. I can justify things well, perhaps better then many of my classmates -- but I do have the advantage of A: never going to traditional school, & B: being out in the 'real world' for a good many years. But even with all this, I can't fully communicate my intention in the work alone: nobody can look or listen to something I've done and just understand universally what I mean. And that, drives me a little mad.

I don't want to be literal - and I don't consider myself fully conceptual - it's just I don't believe that I will ever, well, be an artist if I can't have a percentage of people exposed to my work step away going I get it. I don't mean they get it like I get it, but I mean they get it, like, it sparks off in them a whole tree of thought that pings their rational consciousness and thus what they feel justifies what they've just experienced in looking/listening to my piece of work.

...Of course now that I'm thinking about it, if I produced a painting of a bowl of oranges tipped out of a broken green bowl which was something to do with the perils of Protestant and Catholic children in Northern Ireland, say, (hahah, bullshit art 101) and somebody said 'Oh what a stupid boring painting of fruit that reminds me of my grandmother', I would be disappointed, as that isn't the reaction I'm looking for.

But fuck. What if what I really should strive for isn't the selfish concept of me forcing my ideas into some strangers psyche -- maybe what I should strive for is making pieces that, regardless of my specific intention, just make people think in general.



Oh, and, let me take this moment to say: Thank You Shelley Powers! (!!!1!!one!!11!) Your blog entry When Are We Needed, inspired me to write my essay -- which was, as I have not mentioned previously, a discussion of the representation of war as a means of redefining gender roles through the fabricated female persona in propagandistic British Films of the Second World War.

That was, sadly (hur hur), not the title -- which had to be the essay question in question - discuss the representation of war in the media - which I find sadly banal but eh, oh well. Thems the rules.

But yes, back to Shelley -- I cannot say how much of an inspiration that piece was. I read it a few months before the essay was due in, but when the essay question was handed over, I thought about what Shelley had wrote about WWII propaganda's effect on women in America -- and was curious to ponder the differences in the British methods of using propaganda to mobilise women, and the cultural effects it had on post-War England. So yes; Big Up for Shelley -- freekin' awesome.

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