Unit 1 Assessment

Learning Outcomes and evidence of achieving these

Develop your Project Proposal to plan a challenging and self-directed programme of study

The project proposal was presented to the Digital Arts group to allow for an objective discussion of the work being undertaken for the project. This was done within a few weeks of the course starting. This early discussion was essential and very useful to determine the likelihood of achieving the aims set out for the project. Personally I had a certain impression of where my project would be taken even though I was hoping to be surprised along the way. However, it became more important to have clarity and understanding of what I was trying to achieve as an artist and practitioner. It was helpful to go through the proposal in detail and to ensure that the aims and objectives were effectively thought through and realistic for an MA project of this kind – combining theoretical study with practical application of skills.

Early draft notes for the project proposal can be seen here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/identifying-a-line-of-inquiry-which-one/

However, this was largely improved and developed to a final version which can be read here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/write-up/

I also included a rough timetable of how my project might pan out. I prefered to do this in a layout where each stage was outlined and described in order rather than having a strict timetable based on dates or week numbers. This is because I found it too restrictive and unrealistic to plan my project in this way. I even tried to create a page on my blog specifically in order to display more short-term targets and deadlines for myself but this remained empty for many months.

Being a part-time student the time I use for project work is quite sporadic. But regardless of this I think I have managed my time well. I have an active nature and I simply found it easier to get on with things rather than spending too much time in planning where not necessary. However, for certain testing there has been some planning for example where equipment needs to be purchased or borrowed and where some tasks have to be spread overa few weeks as I would only be able to fit in a few hours here and there during a busy period.

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The challenges I have faced so far have been mostly in trying to learn something new to apply to my work and not just to stick to what I am familiar with. This also meant re-assessing the context in which I am placing myself as a practitioner. As part of my project proposal and in general where the topic came up (which was quite often) I felt the need to look further into what is known to be Islamic Art. The following post describes my concerns on the understanding of this term. This post is also related to how I shaped my essay later in the unit as I felt it was highly relevant to discuss the different views of the general and artistic public: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/back-to-basics-what-is-islamic-art/

Demonstrate a critical engagement with practice-based research

We had a couple of workshops with Leon Barker (current PhD student) on Arduino boards and also Processing. I was aiming to learn some technical skills and a little programming to use with digital technologies for testing with my work. This is something I tried briefly but did not continue. I think I found it difficult to get my head around the workings of the electronics board as well as trying to understand the programming syntax from just a couple of sessions.

Please scroll to the bottom of this post to read about some of my dabbling in this area: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/electronic-circuits-arduino-and-others/

It would have been ideal to continue what I had started but with it being a practical application which is best to be helped with in workshops a few times before trying on your own – this is most likely why I did not succeed at doing it myself. I was unable to attend more than one session with Leon and although I could have contacted him, I think another few sessions in workshops would probably have been more useful. I could however, still make time to investigate this area further. This is something I need to weigh up in terms of how to split my coming weeks to dedicate to certain areas of the project. This organisation of time will need to be according to what needs more time spent on it and if that will be worth contributing towards producing the best results for the final piece.

Another development in recent weeks has been my attendance in an Islamic Pattern-making workshop. These have been very useful and have helped me further refine my pattern-making skills. The aim is to also create some practical work for these classes which has tied in nicely with my pattern-making experiments for the project.

An example of a pattern I developed from the class but continued working on for application to my project can be found here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/workshop-pattern/

which then led to the significantly important work illustrated here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/reflective-light-projection/

Articulate a clear understanding of methodology and context in your creative practice

I have been able to use the first half of the course as an opportunity to gauge an understanding of the current contemporary Islamic Art scene in which my own work would most likely sit. I have achieved this by conducting extensive research, direct and indirect, where I have considered, analysed and evaluated the work in galleries and exhibitions in the UK. I have carried out interviews with emerging and established artists who would be described as Islamic artists, and also those that may not be described as such but have something to add to the scene nonetheless.

My impression of this art scene has therefore been greatly influenced by what I have come across in this time. There have been times where I have had to deeply contemplate what it means when the words ‘Islamic Art’ are used. Reflecting on my personal and practical views I felt compelled to express how I was feeling at this point. There were many conflicts in my mind at the time and in order to process them I mentioned some of my concerns in the following posts (this post is the last of 3 parts, the links to the first two parts are on the following page). These posts took me some time to finish but I think it was a necessary process. It was a difficult subject to address as I had my personal views which link closely to my religious beliefs and my general principles and then there’s simply the need to be objectively looking at such subjects as it’s impossible to give an overview without doing so. I felt these views were important to express even if just for myself: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/before-during-and-after-pt3-unveiled-saatchi-gallery/

What has changed from then to now is probably how I see myself amongst the rest of the Islamic artists out there. I have come to know that things are not what they seem.  I am more focussed on achieving my goals for this project knowing that my own intentions are clear and openly expressed in my work – create something of beauty and interest for a general audience. Certainly that is from a high-level perspective. Lower down, the goals and objectives are more specific as illustrated in the proposal above.

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My own practice combines the use of a traditional method of creative output (Islamic Pattern-making) with the use of contemporary technologies for presentational purposes. Therefore, although my art forms could be described in many ways it still complies with the general notions of both Digital and Islamic art.

I think I have explained this well in the way I have tied it into points I have addressed in my essay. My aim in this paper were to enable the reader to understand the Islamic Art scene from an immersed perspective by providing the reader with relevant background information. They are also able to follow the developments and impacts encountered through a somewhat chronological order. I ended this essay with a section on the digital age that is now also becoming apparent in the Islamic art scene – through my own work if not through others.

My paper on the subject of Islamic Art: It’s early influences, developments and history can be found here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/unit-1-essay/

Admittedly at first I was slightly doubtful that I would be able to successfully merge the two areas of Islamic and Digital Art. But once my understanding of both had developed I found it easier and actually very encouraging to discover that there are unexplored avenues even now in combining the two.

At a simple level I have been able to produce visual art that has utilised new technologies (as can be seen in this post): https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/with-the-good-comes-the-bad/

And yet on another level I am looking at new areas that I did not contemplate prior to commencing with experimentation in my work. This can be seen in the video in this post (which although is not great quality, film is unfamiliar territory for me, I am still pleased at the simplistic display of my work in a video): https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/testing-video/

Evaluate and present your Project (so far)/Be aware of your own personal and professional development

One of my specific goals as part of this project was to learn how to produce traditional Islamic patterns using a compass and straight edge. In order to fulfill this I chose to look at books that could be most useful. In particular I found one book that was easy to follow and was well written and had very clear diagrams with stages illustrated for ease of following for a learner such as myself.

Images of my working through this book can be found in the following two posts which can also be compared to see how my work has developed from a lower level to a higher level. Early example: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/eye-of-the-tiger/ and a later example: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/more-patterns/

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Presentation for the Mid-point review can be seen here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/mid-point-review/

This was a handy method for gaining feedback from my peers who do not necessarily know as much about the subject area I am researching. They were however able to understand my intentions for the project and able to critique my early developments. I have included feedback from the Mid-point review in this post here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/mid-point-review/take-note-feedback-from-mpr/

Feedback is something that is highly valuable for development. Participating in group seminars and discussions about our projects has been a vital way to achieve this as well as to extend ideas that can lead to interesting outcomes. I like how ideas can be influenced and formulated from these discussions and they certainly helped me with seeing how my work is viewed from other perspectives. The following post shows the feedback I got from a discussion we had as a part-time group about our essays when we were in the early drafting stages for the abstract: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/abstract-writing-and-essay-discussion/

Along the way I have also been keeping my blog updated with my progress. This is something I enjoy very much which is probably why it is easier for me to do. But there are also many practical benefits in that I can organise my work much more efficiently. The regular posts I have uploaded means that viewers also see where I am making most progress and have voluntary commented on my work. Most notably I have had much positive feedback from both peers and professionals in the field of art in general as well as specifically from within the Islamic Art scene.

A few examples of where I have further developed aspects of my work is in the use of lighting and reflective materials. This was a result of feedback from various channels and now I feel I have entered a very strong area of practice. What pleases me most about my most recent work is that I have been able to combine aspects which together compliment each other. These include lighting (producing shade and reflections), cut-out patterns and 3D shapes. This is illustrated in the following posts:

First results from using reflective materials in combination with patterns: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/reflective-light-projection/

Experimentation using light in dark space and suspended pattern sheet and further details of this experimentation can be read up on in this post (which is in addition to the video post mentioned above): https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/pir-lights/

Most recent post about work on prototype along the lines of what the final piece may look like: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/iconesahedron/

In conclusion to Unit 1, I feel it has gone well. I have certainly enjoyed the work so far and I feel I have made headway in order to progress into Unit 2. My main objective was to have a rough idea of the physical appearance of my work and perhaps commence with some testing by this point of the course. In general terms I have done this and in specific terms I have experimented in more than one way which is a bonus. I am certainly looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.

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