15 Nov 2013


Territories was good and bad for me. Good because it gave me the opportunity to tell my story so far (and to refine it for myself in doing so), but bad because of the feeling I had afterward (although that too is probably good that it's now and not later). I was basically told that the project wasn't 'Goldsmiths' enough, or that's how I received it anyway. And I don't know what to do with that.

I didn't particularly choose this institution for its perhaps atypical priorities of learning or because of its supposed difference. My application process and interview didn't ask me about such compatibility either. I suppose I felt at the time somewhat confused about what was being asked of me. We were clearly told at the beginning to do what enthuses us ourselves, not to serve the needs or desires of the tutors or institution. But of course I simultaneously realise that this is a weighty project that holds high significance in my attainment for the degree, one that will be marked just as any other piece of work I've ever done in educational context. So to be put on the spot and asked by the anonymous member of staff in the audience "Why are you at Goldsmiths if all you want to do is make a magazine?" (or words to that effect), it seemed unfair. After all, it is my interest while yes I am a student at Goldsmiths. Slightly frustrated, particularly given that the initial response from Laura two weeks ago was positive. All I thought I'd done was to produce work following what was agreed in that previous discussion, and now suddenly I've been made to feel as though I don't belong here (also a personal blow having specifically migrated here from medical school where I'm sure I didn't belong.)

However. Whoever that tutor was, I refuse to believe he's stupid – he must have justification in his response, and to add to that, the other tutors seemed not to disagree. I've had a few days, almost a week, to reflect and I think I understand what was being advised. It's not enough for a final year project at Goldsmiths to simply create another magazine title to sit comfortably in the newsstand. I believe I can deliver that, and make a damn good job of it too, but maybe it's too superficial, not rich enough in original concept? That's not something I'd disagree with, I should absolutely be making innovative steps in the industry and aim to be its spearhead, the pioneer or revolutionary. How, I don't know just yet, but I think that now becomes an acceptable, good project ambition.

So I feel better. But that's not to say I still have further opinion on Goldsmiths' approach. I understand that its priority – dissimilar to other leading institutions – is that work is conceptually strong, stemming from solid foundations of theoretical understanding and societal impact. And I agree with that importance. But I get the feeling that the disciplinary learning, the skill sets and degree of execution are too lowly prioritised, mocked at times. This doesn't make sense to me. Designing something nice and pretty for the sake of designing something nice and pretty has little worth, that I agree with and accept, but the ideologically sound projects that we are encouraged to generate should still be finished to as high a standard as the professional industry (and other leading institutions) do. The priority should be both, no? One or two weeks of Technical Studies per year seems ridiculous. Of course my argument is becoming broader and less focussed now, but it forms part of my response to my project not being sufficiently 'Goldsmiths', whatever that means. Making another publication that is beautifully laid out and aesthetically pleasing is not good enough, for sure (but it's not to say that the outcome shouldn't be a beautiful artefact – it really should). To fulfil my expectations as a student here, and to genuinely produce more exciting work though, I understand there must be something new that I create. That's my challenge. I must still satisfy my own needs and my own interests, but I must also show as much as possible proof of my understanding and learning from my time here at Goldsmiths. There's a challenge I accept, does that sound reasonable to you?

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