Cath Davis- Culteral Approach

This constellation lecture was about the social connotations that come with the objects that we relate ourselves to and how we can customize objects to have individual characteristics that say something about who we are and what we stand for. When studying objects we can unpick these connotations by examining the material and drawing conclusions about what they mean.

As the object and its material is develop over time, the connotations change and develop with it. An object could bee seen as a cultural biography; a culturally constructed entity. There are various ways to identify cultural markers. One should investigate status within different periods and cultures, alongside the production process; who made it for what purpose, what role has it played in different stages of a career, why has usage changed over time? what are the contexts for development? what are different connotations associated that are attributed to the object? The connotations that go with objects can either attract or repel people. Brands have certain connotations that make them trendy. For instance the things that a brand like Holister are associated with make them trendy compared to Tesco’s brand of clothing, F and F. We looked at the connotations and associations that Doc Martins had with them when they originally were released; Doc Martins originally had violent connotations due to the people that tended to wear them.

We learnt that an object is part of a ensemble of items that all add together to create a certain image of the person, so there are various different uses of the object to say different things about that person. So when you wear something like Doc Marten you can achieve different looks by wearing them in different ways and alongside different items of clothing and you will therefore achieve different connotations. So one is subverting and transforming these objects and materials from their given meaning to other meaning and use. This can only can be done once research has be done on original designs and connotations. Below are some examples of some of the different ways of wearing Doc Marten shoes.



From here Davis moved on from this customisation and adaptions of things to talk about how we are self performing, giving a sort of social performance by owning objects and choosing particular objects and materials over other available ones. However with this customisation of objects comes the question of the authenticity of an object. The suggestion of the design process being attributed to the consumer rather than the product encourages a perception of authenticity. Gilmore and Pine suggested that authenticity is substantiated when products are viewed as a platform rather than a finished product. So to look at the meaning of an object in an image one should start by unpicking pieces of images, taking those bits and researching their connotations and then piecing it back together to draw a conclusion. Davis suggested the idea that objects are symbolic, social artefacts, that are not just based on function, but have embedded narratives, about who you are who you want to be.

So when looking at and object and thinking about its meaning one should consider how does the object speak; one should think about race and ethnicity, gender, sexual identities, class, social and historical, cultural context and remember that these things change over time. From this lecture it would be useful to relate this back to my own practice and think about how I can make meaning from what I make, or what connotations I would want my piece to have. I think from a design point of view it is very important to look at how people are going to view your design from a social point of view. I would want my designs to have similar connotations that Apple products do. People associate Apple products with quality design and clever innovation. Apple products are seen as a cut above the rest and are desired by many people for this reason. Because of these certain connotations, Apple have become a very successful business and can charge almost as much money as they like for their products and services.


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