Transparency – The Literal and The Phenomenal

Workplace-Transparency-1000x487.jpgTransparency is part of the constellation module and it is designed to help us through our studies by bringing up new concepts and ideas and different subject that we can take further into our projects and help us think more openly and conceptual about our work. In this subject, I have learned a lot about different dimensions and how to look at the things through the back doors. By means, the different dimension meant that one object or thing can be seen through many aspects and it can only become possible by applying the all four dimensions. This project was a good opportunity to learn new things. Transparency helped me to look at things from many perspectives and create new ideas in a different and more efficient way. We have had the flexibility to work in groups and discuss ideas throughout, more important we had to create presentations based on the different works of art either flat work or 3d sculptures. The tutor gave us a defined explanation on the literal and the phenomenal, she has also given us different examples of each and made sure we fully understood what they meant and what do they represent in the context of transparency.

Throughout the time of the project, most of the seminars happened to take place at the National Museum in Cardiff where we learnt a lot about dimensions and we have engaged in group tasks and individual tasks around the Museum. Each week we have been given sections of text from books closely chosen by the tutor where we were given the task to find pieces of artwork in the museum of a 1-D, 2-D, 3-D and eventually, 4-D form as well and associate it with the meaning of the given text and explain our understanding. However, the idea was to think phenomenal rather than literal where we were meant to look and identify different dimensions related to the found piece of art. I found this subject extremely helpful and fun at the same time. It allowed me to open my eyes when working on my graphic design projects, it has also allowed me to think more before coming up with a concept as it helped me to come up with innovative brand new work for my projects. In preparation for the final paper, research tasks took a big contribution in the development of ideas for the essay. We were asked to go and pick up two art related books where we had to extract information and decide what we were going to write about. It was, however, a very flexible project as we were permitted to choose our own path and what subject to pick for our final essay. Yet, for this essay, I have chosen to write about the Swiss Graphic Design as it is closely related to my area of expertise but also as I am very enthusiastic about this modernist style. The Swiss graphic design inspires me a lot and I believe this was a great opportunity for me to go ahead and learn more about it. However, I practised and applied what I have learned during this module to research learn about new concepts and influences on what makes this style such an amazing approach within the graphic design culture. As I researched I tried to learn enough to be able to apply the Swiss style techniques to the different dimensions that I have learned about throughout the exercises we undertook during the time of this module. Now, that I understood more about the different dimensions I tried to see how other fields like Science or Photography can relate to my subject. Throughout reading, I found that science has a close impact on the style and that it could also be a source of influence for the reason why this style was created. I believe that photography has its place of influence as well as science although it can relate a lot more to the artistic elements rather than the physical elements of Swiss Style of design.

I think this project was an absolute gold mine as it helped me to discover new things about my influences and it allowed me to think more about my concepts when engaging on my own design projects. With every experience, there come fundamental challenges as well. As with the deciding of my topic I have experienced a few problems coming up with the initial ideas of what I was going to base my essay ideas on. Although after doing some research I have fully decided and planned what I was going to say in my essay. After doing this subject I believe I would enjoy taking the idea of “Literal and Phenomenal” further and that I would like to apply it to my future assignments.


2D and 3D – Transparany

Today, we went to the museum and have been given a short piece of text from “The Notebooks of Leonardo Davinci” that must represent 3-dimensional forms and also a big body of text which should be used to associate it with the 2 dimensional. However, the idea of this was to look at things and understand things from different perspectives and try to find non-literal aspects of the 2d and 3d based on our texts and from a chosen piece of art from the museum.

We went around browsing for a rather abstract work that meant something to us, that we found visually strong and, that had a huge impact on our ideas. Something that stood out to us and that we thought it would help to explain our conceptions.

img_1113For the 2D task, I have found this piece of 3-dimensional sculpture that depending on which perspective you look at it from, appears to lose its shadows and it flattens out which becomes a 2-dimensional form. So, I have chosen a sentence that describes the metaphorical meaning of my 2d interpretation of this piece of work, and that creates a clean association with the material it is made of and used for as well.

“In this sense, it is more like a background, the single, grand surface on which everything else is supported.”   – To me, this bit of text kind of represents the piece of work from the above. It refers to a flat surface, like a stage or a wooden floor.

For the 3d task, we have worked in pairs to come up with the best interpretation of concepts. However, we have chosen this piece of work about a terrorist attack in Beirut. So, this work is actually a videotape that is playing constantly from a CCTV in Beirut where the attack has happened.


Based on the short text from “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci”; “The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.”
Looking at the tape and the idea of it bought back to life by recreating the 3-dimensional shape of the bullet hole made by the sniper. It made me realise that it is more than just a flat screen or a picture of the incident. It is a real life object shaped by the use of shadows and lights changing its display or its visual form based on time. The detail of the sculpture is not what makes it appear as a 3D form but the darkest curves and holes of which the bullet created during the impact, so that is what the 2D videotape and pictures displays.

The sniper bullet hole from the Beirut attack
It looks something of this proportion
A photograph of the war




The Gaze and the Narrative

This week we started off by talking about a quote by Colin Rowe a design historian. We have been given another insight on the literal and phenomenal and we have been assigned into groups of two to three of which we had to describe our understanding of the quote. Also, we have been shown a presentation including various pieces of art that we had to pick and relate to our understanding of the quote.

“Should visual and spatial forms be seen as design’s irreducible essence, or does for represent only one layer in a set of values that includes psychological meaning, socialintention, political ideology and other human factors at work in the urban whole?”

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We have talked about the relation between the picked image and the own interpretation of the quote. However, my group and I were thinking that this box could have different visual values or different uses. We came up with the ideology that this box could only be a literal interpretation of a visual reality, by means a box put up on display for exhibit or it could be just a fancy box where the king’s or the queen’s servants used to carry them in, also it may just be for social use as an old days ambulance or so forth. However, it could also be phenomenal. I was looking at its aesthetic values and thinking that it may just simply be a lovely designed box with dark curtains made to hide something or someone from the public. I was thinking of the dark curtains as a means of making it hard to see through the idea of visual impairment.

Writing as looking

Artes Mundi Exhibition

Is an internationally focused arts organisation. It identifies, recognises and supports contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience and is best known for its biennial international Exhibition and Prize which takes place in Cardiff.

Auto De Fe (2016) exhibition

During a browse in the exhibition the “Auto De Fe” caught my eyes, the piece by John Akmofrah is a set of short movies with a dramatic story behind. The concept behind was immigration, and persecution, shown through expressive body language and dramatic sounds. There were two separate screens sharing several perspectives of the same frame. The powerful images displayed pain and anxiety within the people’s body language, and how they felt about the moment and the outcome of what was about to happen to them.

The dramatic and the expressive theme sounds had a good melodramatic influence in the connexion with the frames themselves, although there are not any verbal interactions. There were very strong key elements between the sound and the video frames. These powerful scenes display a strong body language and a fashion style relevant to the themes.

The beautiful places where the videos took place with the fashion style of their clothes had a strong cultural impact on me. On the other hand, what really intrigued me and brought to my attention was the use of light and colour scenes from one screen to another and the narrative impression it gave when I read the images throughout the both screens. Also, the narrative effects working successfully without using any verbal or written language but a strong perspective and a good body language. These, to communicate pain, anxiety, war, power, and many other aspects of the story.

It is all about those extravagant surroundings, the body language and the quality of sound effects that absorbed me into watching these video clips. I think it was a good production and an excellent use of media to effectively captivate me within it.

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The Theory of Knowledge

Session II

Today’s seminar was teaching us about the theory of knowledge defined by two different perspectives, the contrasts between Plato and Nietzsche’s theories. Working as a group we were given the task to identify Plato and Nietzsche’s arguments. Also, prof. Clive gave us a number of questions regarding the theory of knowledge and the two arguments to reply to in pairs.

We were given the opportunity to choose one of the questions of which we had to reply in our pairs.

  • What is knowledge? How does it differ from opinion? How can you be certain that you know what (you think) you know?
  • How do Plato’s and Nietzsche’s theories of knowledge differ? What are the consequences of the conflict between them?
  • How do Plato and Nietzsche affect what or how I think?

Some philosophers hold to the opinion that the difference is due to different kinds of knowledge. What is knowledge? There are three types of knowledge: “To know how to ride, to know by an acquaintance, and to know by description”. These are the three different examples professor Clive gave us.

We talked about each example individually and we understood that “to know how to ride” is something you ‘know’ how to do it by using your body, is called tacit knowledge. It is the kind of knowledge that is hard to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or articulating it like riding a bike or stretching a canvas those are examples of tacit knowledge.

Bertrand Russell talked about the difference of “Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description” in his seminal article (1910) and in chapter five of The Problems of Philosophy (1912). “To know by acquaintance” is the type of knowledge where the subject has a direct circumstantial access to what is known, for example; knowing Berlin or Southern down beach or Lady Gaga or the Samsung Note 7. On the other hand, “to know by description” are the factors leading to the events of 9/11, the difference between minimal and conceptual art, what Berlin is like, basically to know that something is the case.


Plato, Republic, 509b. His theory, “The sun, I think you will agree, not only makes the things we see visible but causes the processes of generation, growth and nourishment, without itself being such a process”


Since knowledge is related to what is, and ignorance, necessarily, to what is not, we shall have to find out whether to what lies between them there corresponds something between ignorance and knowledge…Plato, Republic, 477a.

Plato thinks that “opinion is the medium between ignorance and knowledge”. He thinks, there is a crossed line between ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Knowledge’ but in-between the two there is a matter of personal opinion what resemble between ignorance and knowledge.

However, one good example prof. Clive showed us was about two different perspectives of ‘The Trompe l’oeil’ piece of art where two great philosophers are arguing the artist’s practice of recreating artwork reflected from the real world like a perfect reconstruction of the world around them.

Trompe l’oeil

On the other hand, Nietzsche argues that “A painter without hands who wished to express in song the picture before his mind would, by means of this substitution of spheres, still reveal more about the essence of things than does the empirical world.” ‘On Truth and Lie’, 69.

Unlike Plato, Nietzsche thinks that “Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things. Just as it is certain that one leaf is never totally the same as another, so it is certain that the concept ‘leaf ’ is formed by arbitrarily discarding these individual differences and by forgetting the distinguishing aspects. This awakens the idea that, in addition to the leaves, there exists in nature the ‘leaf ’: the original model according to which all the leaves were perhaps woven, sketched, measured, coloured, curled, and painted – but by incompetent hands…”. Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lie’, 67.

My colleague and I have chosen to argue the differences between Plato and Nietzsche’s theories. We argued that Plato is an idealist, that things in the physical world are flawed reflections of ideal forms, such as roundness or beauty. By means, he sees things that are not what they seem to be at first but just a reflection of the reality in continuous changing.

In contrast, we concluded that Nietzsche is more of a nihilist, he is a pessimist, he believes that the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

Following Plato’s theory can lead to more dynamic answers whereas following Nietzsche is more pessimistic, he believed that all morals need to be constantly questioned.

Personally, I would argue that Plato’s representation of the cave leads to many key questions, including the origin of knowledge, the problem of representation, and the nature of reality itself.



Introduction to the Option and Nature of Philosophy

Session I

My first constellation lesson consisted in introducing us to the subject, philosophy. We started off the introduction by talking about the importance of questioning things. We’ve been put into groups of two people and been asked to question, what are we, a bucket or a fire? The bucket was all about absorbing information and applying it, in a knowledgeable way. The fire was about depending on other resources to find and bring up new ideas or perceptions. Personally, I think I am a bucket as I like to get the information and assimilate it.

Prof Clive gave us an interesting insight into philosophy. He questioned knowledge, “A single final truth or a network of differences?” and, “What counts as knowledge in the internet age?”. There is a barrier between what things really are and the matter of personal opinions. Histories, theories, artefacts, texts, beliefs, concepts, and arguments, these are the main things of revealing answers regarding our questions.

Philosophy made me think about technology in a way that I never thought of. “How do we define, technology?” Also, Clive stated that technology is not just a piece of electronic device but also a tool adding to our being. Is technology, a creation of the human as a result of manipulating a new way of living? Are our own tools depending on us or us on them? Are we fully dependent on our technology, or is it just another way of living our lives? Do we have a choice or we just taking technology as being part of our lives?

Am I a cyborg? Clive showed us an example of the differences between charcoal, bicycle, the Internet, and a cyborg! Is charcoal also a piece of technology?  Might be. I mean we are drawing our lives around our own technology that we can not define the word technology to its full potential.

In conclusion, this subject was designed to support me in learning different ways of creating diverse perspectives on the subject matter throughout philosophy. I think this will embrace my anxiety in bringing forward new concepts and innovative ideas as I will become more open to questioning my subjects and try different approaches to design.