Exploring Media: level 2 (HE5), second module

This is in effect a legacy module as the course is being re-vamped and reorganised. The last of the 60 credit courses at this level, it is in ‘teaching out’ mode until everyone enrolled on it has moved on. Hereafter, there will be three 40 credit units as there are at level 1 (HE4).

Reading the course materials, it’s immediately obvious that the structure is completely different from previous modules. The Assignments are not specific to Parts but apply to progress through Options, of which there are four. We make a choice of two from these four but there is the flexibility to import elements of other options into what might be called the main menu.

Research is a big factor.

This means reading through and getting to grips with the different format and finding a way to choose among the four wholes and the parts that make them up. Gestalt theory suggests that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts‘ which, to me, implies that the overall objectives are more critical than the ways in which they are achieved, but also that the parts comprise essential infrastructure without which the whole may not develop. To borrow from today’s more cognitive paradigms; Gestalt’s ‘whole’ is an emergent property of it parts – it is not them but it is of them.

It would be easy to become bogged down; looking at this element, that choice, the other outcome; so I applied an intuitively simple set of categories that are, to me, very meaningful. I am vegetarian verging on vegan, so meat and meat derivatives are out, dairy is minimally acceptable, and vegan is my preference overall. And a critical factor, whatever your diet, is protein content.

I went through the options, marking each separate element M (meat), V+D (vegetarian + dairy), V (vegan), and P (protein). By that system, Options 1 and 4 emerged as largely V/V+D with only one Meat element each. This meant that swapping those out for the two vegetarian/vegan alternatives from the meat-heavy Options 2 and 3 would not disturb the Protein balance.

In another paradigm, this time Maslow’s hierarchy of need, I looked at how the work plan might operate. In the written structure, the requirement is to complete the first half of the first choice, then to move onto the second half before then completing the first and second halves of the second choice. Framing this within Maslow’s triangle, I could see that it might be preferable – for me certainly – to deal with the basics of each option before moving up the scale because this would provide me with the conditions (tools, ideas, experience) I would need for that.

In Maslow’s terms, the first requirement for any living thing to function is to have its physiological needs met – food, water, air and so forth – before the next, safety, becomes a feasible thought. Here, this translates as basic understanding, and grasp of the groundwork and knowledge of what’s expected taking priority in order to ensure I have the resources to move up the ladder. The second platform is Safety, and for me this would be the security derived from the first level allowing necessary freedom of expression.

I’m not sure how far I want to take this analogy but this first adjustment has been agreed with my tutor.

For Maslow, self actualisation is the peak achievement after all other needs have been met so I imagine that to be the body of work submitted for assessment, and while the course materials don’t actually mention a parallel project, there does seem to be one and I do have an idea for this which would probably comprise that body of work. I have enjoyed responding to text in a painterly rather than an illustrative way* and my thinking is to use a short story as the stimulus for a series of paintings that do this. I will probably use the options and elements I have chosen to develop my thinking around that goal.

Gestalt Theory – ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. There is a neat summary here: https://www.psywww.com/intropsych/ch04-senses/gestalt-psychology.html [accessed 29th December 2021] of the various principles of Gestalt psychology; I like the one about closure, where the brain makes up missing parts in order to construct a recognisable whole. It’s often right but can be spectacularly wrong when distance and perspectives are either unanchored (UFOs for instance) or deliberately distorted (Escher).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need. Developed in 1943, it illustrates a shorthand hierarchy of human need (or that of any sentient entity) whereby certain preconditions must apply before anything more sophisticated can happen. In essence, any entity starved and/or unable to breathe will not, at that point, write a novel. Wikipedia has a decent outline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs [accessed 29th December 2021].

*The Speed of Things. Commissioned painting to accompany the poem Star Roots by Tom Sheehan. In A Christmas Canzonette (Eds Fitzpatrick, M., Joslin, O., West, B.) The Linnet’s Wings. 2021. P 42.

Bang Bang. Commissioned painting to accompany the poem Solo Shot by Tom Sheehan. In A Christmas Canzonette (Eds Fitzpatrick, M., Joslin, O., West, B.) The Linnet’s Wings. 2021. P 46.

Tokyo Ghost. Painting commissioned for the cover of a book due to be published in 2022.

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