Throughout my last term of first year, I was extremely lucky and gain the opportunity to attend my first constellation study group choice which was a top called ‘The Body in Society”. This was originally meant to be lectured by Ashley Morgan but as she was unable to give the lecture, so the lovely Davida Hewlett managed to step in a takeover. The very interesting concept, the lessons I attended were about exploring a variety of theories on how the body is viewed and treated throughout a variety of societies, ranging from past societies to contemporary societies in today’s day and age. There has been vast amount of way the body has been viewed over the year, mainly due to being stapled with artist’s concept influencing out images of our bodies. As we have a lot of stigma talking about the way we look with body shaming becoming a bigger problem in today’s society due to a growing celebrity culture and social media. This is what mainly interests me in choosing this topic to study through constellation. It was also very interesting to see past examples of how the body was seen in society and discuss with my class how this does and doesn’t compare to today society.
I particular favourite lecture from The Body in Society sessions in term two was week five were we discussed how the body is controlled throughout a variety of societies. This lesson was one of the biggest influences for my constellation essay and what it’s about. We began the lesson by looking Bentham’s prison, the Panopticon, and the idea of control through isolation rather than through physical and mental force like other prisons.
Our first discussion was about a particular question; “In the past, how was the body controlled?” We debated and discussed different aspects on how it may have been controlled, we came up with examples such as, Religion (found to be the biggest of the control elements through time), suppression of sexual appetites as well as the concepts and stories that have been told about heaven and hell. A lot of these aspects are still an issue of control today. Religious still being a main aspect of control is contemporary whether it is control for good reasons or unfortunately control for bad reasons.
After discussing how the body was controlled in past societies, we moved on to discuss Michel Foucault’s theory of “visibility is a trap”. We mainly focussed on how this theory relates to Bentham’s Panopticon. Here is a small paragraph on how I introduced Foucault’s quotes into my essay and my thoughts about it: “(Foucault) suggests that “visibility is a trap” unlike other prisons “He is seen, but does not see, he is the object of information but never the subject of communication” reacting to the face the prisoner is an “object of information” The prisoner is a passive object. They are owned; they are never free and cannot communicate unlike a “subject to communication” who is free and powerful and can communicate freely. This will affect and control the prisoner in a way he on constant high alert. The unknowing nerve of whether they are being watched or not have the inmates caught inside a power sit in which themselves are the bearers.”
We then moved on to discuss how the body is control throughout contemporary society. The examples we discussed were the difference between dress sense in sexes and what each sex is supposed to wear, sexual orientation, body images/body shaming and the control social media now has on society. A lot of this lecture influenced what my essay was about, comparing past situations with control throughout today’s society due to social media. It was interesting to place Foucault’s “visibility is a trap” into other situation throughout different societies and see how it applied.
As a person, I am a lot better at the hands on, creative part of my course and I do struggle to concentrate on theory sides of work. I found that these session was extremely interesting and excited me, this helped me overcome my stigma with written works and lectures, and as a surprise to me, I was excited to start my essay and write down and discuss as the ideas I had that were flying around in my head.
To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed my session of constellation lectures based on The Body in Society. It got me to think and consider a number of issues such as why we are expected to wear certain clothes and look a certain way in today’s society. Furthermore, how we accepted into group based on how we look and what trends we follow rather than our personality, the way we act and the people we are inside. I have considered how I can incorporate my constellation work into my subject module; I have decided to pick the topic “Urban Beat” in the digital part of our module, which concentrated on contemporary society. I could incorporate this topic into my module by researching into trends and how the body is controlled in urban society and reflect this within my digital concepts and prints.