Diss Reflection

My dissertation year was stressful but insightful. I’ve learn so much from the subject matter which is metaphor, because it links to my illustration. I’ve always been interested in the use of metaphor in visual art. Surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali always captured my attention with their use of symbols and metaphor. I’ve also always been interested in social and political change throughout the year that were influenced by art, such as contemporary, modern and pop designs & art movements, fashion style and 60’s and 70’s lifestyles but as well as metaphor that were use to change the religious symbols meanings and our culture.

Soon as my proposal is agreed between my tutor and I, I began my research by reading books edited by Andrew Ortony (n.d.) Metaphor and thought, in which a collection of papers by theorists of metaphor use in communication, learning and everyday live. From this book I gathered more reference about conceptual metaphor introduced by non constructivist such as George Lakoff (1941) and Mark Johnson (1949), Max Black (1909 – 1988), Christopher Tilley (n.d.) and many others. My tutor advised me to read upon a book about symbols by Carl Jung. His book, Man and his symbols has influenced me greatly, especially with my understanding about symbols history, meanings, perceptions, myth, dreams and the unconscious/unconscious mind. From here I began to see in depth connection between symbols and metaphor, which is that one is supporting the other for use in self expression, communication and influencing change in society or individual.

I think that our library book and online collections are extensive. I have received great service from the staffs when I need it most, in particularly when I need to borrow books or online journals from other library sources. I do not have a very good writing skills, however my tutor advised me to start by making statements of research outcome into bullet points so that it would help me in constructing paragraph and chapters. I’ve also made a diagrams to make it easier for me to plan the structure of my writing. The diagrams includes plans for each chapters, quotes, theories, examples, arguments, questions and summery of my research and possible conclusion. The diagrams had helped me to keep focus on my intentions and to keep check on what I may have missed or need to investigate more.

Conceptual metaphor involves thought process. There are two domains in the metaphor where one source domain (familiar idea/concepts) is use to help explain the target domain (unfamiliar idea/concepts). The viewers is invited to find connection and comparison between two domains, thus have a new understanding about the unfamiliar idea/concepts. Our mind stored vivid images of events, memories, objects, feelings that have personal attachments, thus symbols. Each person have their own perception of symbols, in which created naturally or by culture. Lakoff & Johnson are the first to introduce a theory that when a new conceptual metaphor is introduce to an old system, it can change a person or society way of lives, however it can only happen when the old system is loss. Artist have the power to introduce new ideas/concepts through conceptual metaphor and symbols. This power can be taken advantage by certain group to gain control over the other, i.e. political, social or religious purposes. However it can also bring positive things to a person and society, therefore it can build the self and empower them. As an illustrator, I believe that this theory could bring innovative, talkative and creative way to convey my intentions through my art, therefore evoke a reaction or response from the viewers.

Artist such as Frida Kahlo whose self portrait and still life works are full of symbols and metaphor had influenced my work. In her work Self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird (1940) and Moses: nucleus of creation (1945) she infused her Mexican heritage, aztec culture, her Christian belief and life stories into her work. She successfully built a relationship between her self, the work and the viewer in her self expression in conveying her feelings, emotions, suffering and aspirations & dreams. Even though she was bed ridden in majority of her life, she managed to use her mind, body and environment to create her art. She also inspired others through her Moses: nucleus of creation by  taking stand on her womanhood, placing woman forward in front of male, woman as the creator of life, hence referenced to Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe symbol.

Other artists that have also inspired a generation is Jackson Pollock, in particular is his 1952 work Convergence. The paint splash & drip method, vibrant colour, texture and abstract shapes is considered to be innovative at the time where the US was looking for a change in economic condition and culture. He was a pioneer in freedom of expression and creativity in compare with the conventional european art style. Pollock has a big influence in American abstract expressionist movement. This however have been taken advantage by the CIA and used as a propaganda tool in the cold war against communist Soviet Union. New art such as jazz music was also being ‘supported’ by the CIA in order to create new America.

I hope that I did my dissertation justice. All the tutorials sessions I had was very helpful in terms of starting off my research and focus on finding the question and structure of my dissertation. My tutor was very open with consulting about other stuffs as well, so that it did not interfere with my concentration in writing. What I could take from writing dissertation is that personally, I think my academic writing skill has improved. I learnt so much from my subject matter in which also feed into my subject module. Taking from this research and writing experience, I hope that I have found a balance in creating my illustration between my skill of technical or art approach, social realism but also freedom of expression & creativity, therefore convey and communicate my intentions to inspire myself and maybe others.

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