The Body As A Project

Week Five

Reflexive Bodies/The Body as a Project


Last time we talked about class, access to food, dieting – and these being quite old concepts

Anorexia was a disease in medieval times, not just today. Can be related to religion – fasting

Certain things we think are only a modern issue – but they are not

Technology applied to body – people have been doing this for a long time


Today’s lecture; A philosophical approach to the body


Reflexivity – you are a subject and an object, a thing to be acted on/observed by yourself.


Where does the body sit in relation to your subject? Is it evident?

Is it implicit in your design? Is it about or for the body?

Example; Prosthetic hand for child made in fab lab

What did the designers have to understand in order to design this?


Reflexive Embodiment – Nick Crossley


We have investment in our bodies – physically and emotionally

We see our bodies as something to work on


We are subjects – an active person available to have a conversation with

We are also objects – our physical bodies are an object

People represented in the media are often presented as an object (Objectified).


Crossley – Reflexivity. When I am washing, I am both the subject being washed, and the agent who is washing.


You are looking in the mirror; you are the subject (the one looking) and the object (the one being looked at)

In the mirror is an image of us, not ourselves.


Writing on your blog is reflexive- think about yourself as a subject and an object – writing about what are you doing, thinking about what you are doing.


DescartesI think therefore I am. He said that what we think is more important than our bodies. This suggests our conscious mind can exist without our bodies. The consciousness is important.


Crossley says you can’t have a thought without a body, so you are not capable of consciousness without a body.


We have our bodies and we are our bodies.


We think about our bodies, changing them.


Selfies as examples.

Take a selfie, put it on your blog and write up about Crossley with it.


The Body as a Project.

Chris Shilling


Shilling talks about technology and the body, disability and the body etc.


We see the body as a project – that should be worked on and accomplished as part of an individual’s self-identity.


Examples of body projects; Standing out, going to the gym, how many drugs can I take. Dieting, overeating.


Tattooing is a phenomenon of the late 20th century; they used to have cultural implications attached to them. They are now normalised and part of a body project.


Body Projects.


Shift between the collective and the individual.

Impact on sense of identity. Identity can be individual or shared.

Identity can be fluid.

Identity can be built up over time.

Identity can be changed through the body – e.g. transgender

When you get older it is harder to have an individual identity, people with white hair are hard to tell apart. Also when you are a baby.

We can change the appearance, size and shape of our bodies. (Transplants, prosthesis). Kidney transplants.


Try looking around at people, what are their body projects?


It is ‘natural’ to have a body project


Body projects can be linked to consumerism

Perfume advertising – always about the body – always highly abstract


Increasing application of technology to bodies brings the ‘natural’ body into question.

Technology could be anything from deodorant to prosthesis.

Deodorant – changing the natural state of your body by adding technology


Crossley – We are not constantly obsessed with our bodies, attention to the body is episodic. You pay attention to our bodies when we are getting ready to go somewhere.


Pain reminds you about your body. But the body is not on your mind all the time.

You are reminded of your body when you catch sight of your body, and when you open a door.


Awareness of bodies is important in design.


Having a glass panel in a door is a safety issue; if someone is trapped inside you can see them. Why do some doors have glass in them and some don’t?


B Block – all open plan.

You can see each other, you become conscious of yourself.

You can see students working.

You can see more people more of the time.


Awareness of bodies is evident in architectural design.


The body as a subject, the body as an object.


Running as a body project.

You can acquire skills with your body.

Health and fitness is a post war phenomenon

Exercise clothing has been adopted as a fashion.

It is common to see people running on the streets

In the past, running was confined to a few people; men would usually run       for sport, competitively. Women were prevented from racing         competitively.

Kathryn Switzer entered 1967 Boston Marathon; people physically pulled       her off the race.

Women were told not to go out at night in case they were attacked.

Power and control.

Getting your body to do something challenging by doing it consistently,           training.

Running has now become a culturally accepted phenomenon of a body            project.

Look up ‘Sikhs and the City’ running club.


Culturally acceptable body projects

Women’s bodies – we assume they will be about appearance rather than         fitness.

We conflate beauty with fitness.

Consumer goods sold to women, beautification rather than fitness.

Consumer goods marketed at women, GPS watched, iPods, Jawbones   (fitness bangles).


Turning our bodies into objects and projects.


Body Project – ‘Ordinary athlete’

Wearing technology that helps us to train professionally (such as          Jawbone, GPS watch.)



The Body in Art and Design


Caravaggio – body with basket of fruit. The body is present in the painting; fruit is used to imply things about the body.


Tracy Emin – the absent body – it is still about the body even though there is no body present (See ‘Everyone I have Ever Slept With’ and ‘My Bed’)


In your subject is the body mainly present/mainly absent?


Design – Cup with no handle

A rubber sleeve replaces the handle – the body is implicit in the design.


Subversive stitch – Tapestries showing liberation of women. Feminist idea of the body. The icon of women. The body is implicit.


We can relate to art and design relating to the body because we all have bodies.


Using your hand as a technology, your body helps you to create art.



The body is a project

We have bodies, we are bodies – we are subjects but we are also objects.

Body projects – people hone aspects of the body – running – how far can           you push a body. Application of technology to this


Next Week

Body and affordance

Read in advance

Do you want a tutorial?



Must have a beginning, middle and end

Bibliography, references (Harvard referencing style) Alphabetical order.         (On Moodle in reading list)

500 – 1000 words



3D Reliefs – starting final outcomes..

11988522_1626014570981978_1534900149559892820_n 12227624_1626014544315314_6724857919811461153_n 12227702_1626014557648646_8828062072584762968_n 11148754_1626014590981976_4177848953559721321_n 12243505_1626014604315308_3166767750223753112_n

As I couldn’t do anything in the wood workshop this morning, due to not having glued the top and bottom to my wooden box on in last week’s session, I couldn’t do much else after glueing the tops and bottoms on, as the glue had to be left 24 hours to properly set, I headed off upstairs to my studio space.

I rolled out clay and started to imprint my hands in different positions and ways, before pouring different colours of plaster mix over the top.

I’m excited to see how these turned out tomorrow when I peel the clay away to reveal my plaster moulds, as this will be the start towards my final outcomes, as once I get the perfect 3D reliefs, I will then be moving onto creating other casts of off them.

Metal Workshop With Dallas

11207306_1626014514315317_3713913839906051103_n 12239652_1626014527648649_5648113939817546652_n

In the Metal Workshop with Dallas today, I got introduced to a new material called Vinamould in the Foundry. It is a mould that feels very oily when you touch it. It is a nice, deep, Royal Blue when brand new, but after a lot of use and being reheated, to be reused, it loses it’s colour and fades to a green colour. The ones I used were like a pasta colour almost.

We started off by going into the bins to grab some vinamould to cut up. They had to be cut up into small chunks into a glass jar, otherwise when being put in the microwave, the vinamould would burn and it’d result in throwing away the material as it would be useless if it burned.

I decided to use one of my 3D reliefs to cast the vinamould onto, so had to roll out some clay to rest my 3D relief on, and had to build up clay walls around it to prevent the mould from leaking, like we have done before with plaster casting. To prevent my 3D relief from being damaged by the heat of the vinamould, I had to spray it thoroughly with water before pouring the mixture onto it.

Once it was all cut up, I put it in the microwave for four minutes, and put on the protective goggles and gloves we have to wear when using this mould, because if it got into our eyes or on our skin, it could be dangerous. Especially if you tried to peel it away from your skin, as you would end up with burns. After four minutes, I removed the glass jar from the microwave and with a wooden spoon, I stirred the not yet melted mixture, before putting it back into the microwave for another 4 minutes.

After it was melted, I took it out of the microwave and quickly walked over to the clay plinth holding my 3D relief and slowly poured the vinamould on top of my object that I wanted to cast.

I’m excited about seeing what it looks like next week after it’s set.

Constellation Essay.

Masculine Gender Identity by Lawrence Aaron Gilson

In this academic piece, I will be referencing articles, journals and thesis’ by Rosalind Gill, Karen Henwood, Carl McLean, Lawler, Finkelstein, Balsamio, Galilee and Featherstone. I have indulged in reads of books, predominantly on the body or social theory; The Body and Social Theory by Chris Shilling, Body and Organization by John Hassard, Ruth Holliday and Hugh Willmott and Body Modification by Mike Featherstone.
I am interested in looking thoroughly at the masculinity of transmen and how they are differentiated to that of a masculine cismale.

The Panopticon mentions locking up ‘a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker or a schoolboy.’ this could relate to Gender Identity and mental illness as in past times, those who were out of cultural norms – such as homosexuals or those suffering mental illness – were punished. The Panopticon effect mentions nothing but cells and one tower where a security guard resides, constantly watching to iregulate bad behaviour.

Finkelstein mentions ‘we hastily read character physiognomically, from the shape of the individual’s nose and chin, or the colour of the eyes and hair; on the other, we create a sense of identity, by dressing or behaving after a particular fashion or style. We know, too, that other people in all likelihood are doing the same. They may be wearing a hair piece using hair dye or displaying a sun-tan or have had plastic surgery or a hair transplant.’ This is a strong relation to Gender Identity, as Finkelstein speaks about how we as a society hastily judge one’s gender based on appearances solely.

Upon reading a thesis on The Technologies Of The Gendered Body, there was a paragraph that mentioned a reconstructed fiction of gender identity.
It may be questioned how this relates to masculine gender identity. This can be explained in Galilee’s thesis ‘Men and Masculinities’, Galilee mentions how heterosexual men are conceived as the powerful hierarchy in comparison to that of a homosexual man, who is considered weak due to the stereotypical image that lingers over homosexuality. So, where do transmen stand in the hierarchy?
A Female-to-Male Transman may have been born biologically female, but their mind-set and gender identity would be fully masculine. They have a burning desire to be socially perceived as male – something that becomes more adaptable after Hormone Replacement Therapy and a long process of surgeries. But right at the very beginning of their transition to masculinisation, being perceived predominantly as male is a challenge. A transman will have faced countless times where they have been hastily judged and read as female due to their feminine facial features or their more curved body shape or the pitch of their voice.

Maquette Monday

12250150_1626014620981973_4014156590486644186_n 12278755_1626014697648632_8892457269814415041_n 12274633_1626014677648634_3938657485979624238_n 12250107_1626014647648637_8501379562521238556_n 12243448_1626014720981963_3148761277342018107_n 12243256_1626014664315302_6065840391153045019_n

I had a group crit today, with Jon at 2pm and made a few maquettes mainly out of clay, to show my progression to my ideas and final outcomes.

I have decided to continue with the plaster 3D reliefs, as I felt they were a fun process to use, and the intricate detail from my handprints are something I am looking for. I’m looking at an effect in my work to display gender transition, and currently I am working on this theory of ‘being reborn’, so to suggest that the person before they transitioned died to be reborn as their true selves.

I’m aiming to make a series of these 3D reliefs, but want to create rubber and wax casts from them as well, so I have used different materials and techniques to achieve what I am aiming to accomplish with my work.

I found the crit with Jon to be really beneficial, as he gave me feedback about my ideas and my work, to which I’m responding to that feedback by changing direction in my project of which materials I use.

Thanks for the feedback today Jon, it helped me figure out what to make.

Study Group Session.

In today’s session, we spoke about the pressure and issues of one’s appearance, mainly thanks to the negative message that surrounds us on social media and in magazines etc to make people feel they need to be a certain way, shape or size to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘handsome’.

There is a pressure now on men, more so than what I feel there used to be, to fit into our society’s ‘norms’, as well as women. But I feel that women are criticised more towards their size, as there is this ridiculous aim for all women to be skinny to be ‘beautiful’, when that is not accurate.

I found this session to be beneficial as it has concrete my foundations for my essay, which I am basing on Masculine Gender Identity.

Rachel Kneebone

I’ve been looking more closely into Rachel Kneebone’s work and find her sculptural pieces absolutely breathtaking. The intricate detail and fragility of her pieces inspire delicacy and almost a sense of something being ‘made to be broken’. Another reason why I feel inspired by Rachel’s work, is because nearly all of her sculptures contain bodies or body parts. In a way, it ties in with my theme of Gender Identity and my current thought process for my own sculptural outcomes.

Currently, I am working with the idea of someone who is trans being ‘reborn as their one true self’, so quite a few of my maquettes are of hands, the body, arm etc and one of my clay maquettes is an arm reaching out from the mud to suggest they have transitioned and therefore have been reborn as their prefered gender identity.

I love looking at Rachel’s work, because there’s always a sense of beauty and passion that visually speaks to me when I look at her work. I fell in love with her pieces when I first started uni, as we had a trip to the National Wales Museum and one of her porcelain sculptures was displayed there. It was absolutely stunning and the quality as well as attention to detail was breathtaking. I would love to see an exhibition solely of her work.

I feel like Rachel Kneebone’s work is helping to inspire me to develop my own ideas and concepts behind my own body of work, as all her pieces are different and hold separate meanings. This is how I want my work to be portrayed and perceived.
13-When-I-doubt-I-exist-again 2012_Rachel_Kneebone_Kneebone_Paradise_-of_Despair_428H 6783280654_0c4fbbcea6_b i-659x494 p-494x659 Rachel Kneebone (12) Rachel-Kneebone-The-122902-659x494