Thesis 1

Think! BFA CD 2016

WEEK 15 | Time to wrap it up.

The final research documentation is due on Dec 19, 11.59pm.

As always, you will be uploading one PDF to a shared BFA CD google folder. You’ll receive details in an email.

This final PDF collects everything you did during thesis 1 plus two things: Feedback from our guest critics (+ your reflection on it) and a proposal for thesis 2. Please carefully follow the instructions to the right to write up your thesis 2 proposal. Keep this short: A one page overview that you add to the end of your publication.

After you submit your PDF, don’t look at anything related to thesis for at least two weeks.

Next Monday we will meet in our regular classroom. Bring food and something to drink if you want. We’ll debrief thesis 1 look at thesis 2 and I am also available for individual discussion where needed.



A short paragraph about your topic and why it is meaningful to you.


Describe the message you want to communicate to a specific audience, or within a specific context. Define the purpose of your study, ie: whether it is intended to trigger a reaction, to persuade your audience of a fact, communicate an emotion, or expose gathered and analyzed information in an effective manner.


Who is your focus group?


What are your conceptual means? How do you communicate? Examples: Will you create an Avatar to convey a message? Are you going to Illustrate statistic numbers to make a point? Will you conduct a self study/experiment?

The channel of communication is basically the shape your project will take to reach your audience (game, website, installation, book, publication, ..).


Most important: Set up a schedule for the time from Jan 23 to April 10.
What will you be doing to implement your thesis 2 project every single week?
At this point things are still in progress and it is no problem to change the schedule early next semester. Start from the back and think about what you would like to achieve.

week 14 | Final Presentations

We will meet in two groups. You have to show up for the session you are listed in, you are invited to join the other group. Each group has two guest critics. Make sure you upload your presentation to the folder “05 Final Presentation Dec 12”. The presentation should be about 5 min to leave enough time for feedback from our guests. Please arrive to the class room at least 10 minutes before the presentations starts.

→ Group 1, 12:10-2:40 pm

→ Group 2, 3:10-5:40 pm

→ December 19
Final meeting, debrief, cake and cookies?

→ Inspiration

Observational Practices and the Everyday

Talking About Seeing: Observational Practices and the Everyday is a cross-disciplinary panel discussion with science journalist Aatish Bhatia, artist Martha Rosler, filmmaker and ethnographer Pacho Velez, filmmaker and educator Meghan O’Hara, and the writer and curator James Merle Thomas, moderated by Latif Nasser, director of research at WNYC’s Radiolab.

Thursday, December 15, 2016
6.30-8.00 pm


week 13 | Presentation test run

→ December 5
All students will present their thesis 1 work to the class. You have 5 minutes for your presentation and 10 minutes for feedback. BEFORE you prepare your deck to introduce your work it is part of your homework to read both articles linked in the right column. They give good general advice about presenting even though you only have 5 minutes to fill.

Start your presentation with one slide that has your name and a project title. It allows guests to address you directly and make references to your work at any later point. In general, guests are also interested in your research. After briefly explaining the problem/situation that was the starting point for your exploration you can show briefly precedents, your outreach or any other research that was most relevant to you.

In most cases it will makes sense to introduce both experiments you did and then describe your plans for thesis 2. You don’t have to go too much into details (every button of a user interface) but rather connect your last 4 months to a narrative that people can follow.

Upload your deck BEFORE CLASS to our shared google drive to the folder “04 Final Presentation Prototype”.

→ December 12
You will present to guest critics. The class will be divided into two sessions from 12-2.40 and 3-5.40. You only HAVE to attend the session you are presenting, you are INVITED to also join the other one.

→ December 19
DUE: Proposal Thesis 2 and documentation Thesis 1. Cake anybody?

→ Inspiration



week 12 | Individuals | Ways of seeing

This is the last time we will have individual meetings.
We will focus on Experiment 2 and wrapping things up which can also include ideas for thesis 2.

→ November 28

12:10-12:30 Alice
12:30-12:50 Christian
12:50-1:10 Sachi
1:10-1:30 Talia
1:30-1:50 Mariana
1:50-2:10 BREAK
2:10-2:30 Megan
2:30-2:50 Sherifa
2:50-3:10 Jun
3:10-3:30 Cheryl
3:30-3:50 Lika
3:50-4:10 BREAK
4:10-4:30 Paula
4.30-4.50 Yuchen
4.50-5.10 Michelle
5.10-5.30 Kiki

→ November 29, 8pm
DUE: Documentation Experiment 2
Submission instructions in upcoming email.

→ December 5
Final presentation test run

→ December 12
Final presentation with external guests

→ Inspiration

Full of food and can’t move? “Ways of Seeing” is classic BBC series about “seeing” and how we look at art. It’s a good re-watch – but it is also be good to have a “critical eye” while looking at it again.

John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972)
All episodes are available on youtube!

week 11 | Thesis Fair

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall
55 West 13th Street, Room I-202

12.10-12.30 Arriving & Set-up Group A
12.30-02.00 Group A presents (switch at 12.45, 1.00, 1.15, 1.30, 1.45)
Y. Park, I. Chou & D. Saatdjian, l. Kiang, P. Glissmann (50%)
02.00-02.30 Break & Setup Group B
02.30-04.00 Group B presents (switch at 2.45, 3.00, 3.15, 3.30, 3.45)
L. Bulman, J. Lehni, H. Kim, P. Glissmann (50%)

What will happen?
You will present individually to students from other sections for 15 min and then move on to talk to somebody else.

You should bring prototypes of experiment 1 and experiment 2 (and your research publication). You can decide which aspects you would like to present and discuss. If you already know, for example, that you will continue experiment 2 as your thesis 2 you should focus on that. It is also helpful to come with a question to Thesis Fair so you can get specific feedback.

Print the form on the right and bring it to Thesis Fair next week. This is the documentation of the day which you should share with me as well as include it in your research publication.
DUE: Monday, Nov 21, 8pm: Take a picture of both pages and upload them to our shared google drive folder “Thesis Fair Documentation”.

week 10 | Guest lecture 3 & Thesis Fair Prep

Guest lecture 3
When: Monday, November 14th from 12:10 – 1:30pm
Where: University Center, UL105

Our Thesis Fireside Chat series continues this Monday with Luke Williams, Creative Director of Paperless Post. He’ll be sharing his journey from graduation to Paperless Post and his passion for innovating on tradition and redefining how people can connect both online and off.

Thesis Fair Prep
When: Monday, November 14th from 2:00 – 5:50pm
Where: Classroom

Bring a prototype of your second Experiment to class and be ready to present it in less than five minutes.
Your narrative can include the experience of Experiment 1, what you believe has been successful and ideas for final thesis (if you already have these…)

11/21 Thesis Fair
11/28 DUE: Documentation Experiment 2


Andreas Gursky
Amazon, 2016
Inkjet print
81 1/2 × 160 1/4 × 2 7/16 inches, framed (207 × 407 × 6.2 cm)
© Andreas Gursky/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

GAGOSIAN Gallery, 522 West 21st Street

week 9 | Ornament and Crime

Key Visual Workshop
We will examen and workshop visuals to represent your thesis / thesis topic in class.
→ Select a title for your Experiment 2 and design a logotype using a specific font and a specific set of colors. If you want you can manipulate the letters and / or add a symbol or an icon.
→ Print this in b/w as well as in color.

Thesis studio
→ Bring a prototype of your second Experiment to class — this can be digital or physical.
→ Also, bring tools (laptop) you need to work in class.


Flux Identity/Branding

Melbourne Identity

Sagmeister Inc. – Casa Da Musica Identity: Movie on vimeo

Norway 1: Currency redesign proposal Also look at all proposals.

Norway 2: Passport redesign

If you love your brand, set it free. Smashing magazine by Jose Salmeron

Natasha Jen’s mutable, moving typeface for AIA gala expands and contracts. Looks familiar? Read this post on It’s nice that.

week 8 | Experiment 2 & Individuals

→ October 31, Individual meetings

What to bring:
1. Experiment 1 – Final iteration
1. Experiment 2 – Prototype / iterations

12:10-12:30 Alice
12:30-12:50 Kiki
12:50-1:10 Michelle
1:10-1:30 Yuchen
1:30-1:50 Paula
1:50-2:10 BREAK
2:10-2:30 Lika
2:30-2:50 Cheryl
2:50-3:10 Jun
3:10-3:30 Sherifa
3:30-3:50 Megan
3:50-4:10 BREAK
4:10-4:30 Mariana
4.30-4.50 Talia
4.50-5.10 Sachi
5.10-5.30 Christian

→ Submission deadline for PDF 2: OCT 31, 11pm.

Add all steps of experiment 1 (including sketches, images, writings) plus the project descriptions of experiment 1 and experiment 2 to your research publication (see week 5) and submit to the shared google drive. You will receive the guidelines by email.

→ Inspiration

comp is a redesign of the classic composition notebook––made for the 21st century.

Problem – Research – Solution – Kickstarter

week 7 | Experiment 1 Presentation

On October 24 you will present your Experiment 1 to a peer panel.

What to bring:
→ Your Experiment 1 — it should be as developed/final as possible since this is the last opportunity for feedback.
→ A PRINTED statement of about 200 words that explains your Experiment 1 and its context.
→ A PRINTED statement of about 200 words that describes your plans and ideas for Experiment 2.

Make sure your Experiment 1 can be experienced without any further explanations: If is is a printed publication it should be printed, bound and cropped. If it is digital you need to bring a laptop/ipad so the panel can interact with it. Exhibitions & installations can be mocked-up.

Be ready to answer these questions:
→ Who is your audience?
→ Why did you select a specific channel of media / platform?
→ How will this project (potentially) live in the future?
→ Which parts of the Experiment were successful, which need to be improved?
→ How will Experiment 1 feed Experiment 2?

Deadline for submitting your research publication including Experiment 1 is OCT 31.

Head of Design for GOV.UK Mark Hurrell shares his portfolio advice for young creatives.

week 6 | Experiment 1 Prototyping

12.10 – 1.30 Guest lecture: Other Means
Other Means will be presenting their work + hosting a Q&A with you on their creative process.

When: October 17th from 12:10 – 1:30pm
Where: University Center, UL105

Other Means is a graphic design studio in Brooklyn, New York that designs identities, websites, publications, and editorial illustrations. Recent clients include the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Goethe-Institut New York, Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and The New York Times. In addition to our client work, we produce projects that investigate our fascination with language and design’s relationship with popular culture and the everyday. In 2013, Other Means initiated the New York session of Typography Summer School — an annual, week-long intensive graphic design workshop and lecture series.

1.30 – 5.50 Class in section
Bring the tools you need to work and be ready to give a one-minute update on your process to the group.

Book review on Post-Digital Print – the Mutation of Publishing Since 1894, Alessandro Ludovico. You will find a link to the PDF version of the book at the end of the interview.

Alessandro Ludovico is also co-founder of the neural magazine. Take a look if you haven’t yet.

week 5 | Individuals

Deadline to submit your first PDF with all the research you did so far is Wednesday, OCT 12, 2pm. Consider including the following:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Content Page
  3. Your name, your program, Year, A project title
  4. Initial mind-map
  5. 10 spreads with 10 images inspired by Pecha Kucha
  6. Post-it feed back from Pecha Kucha (if available)
  7. Exploration of the physical (response)
  8. Exploration of the digital (response)
  9. Secondary research: Readings
  10. 20 sketches for experiment 1
  11. Planned or documented outreach (Who are you going to talk to and why? This can be a short written statement, a survey or transcripts of interviews)

“How much time do I have for my thesis?”
A Perspective on Time shared by visually, A collaboration between Wait but why & Visually, Designed By mayra.artes

week 4 | Experiment 1 and Individuals

→ Documenting this week
After this week’s class please document the following on your research blog (before Friday Sept 30) :
1. Your 20 sketches for project 1 (Again, this can be a rough visual documentation).
2. Two final directions that came out of the peer critique. Write for each a short paragraph why it is an interesting direction to explore for your thesis.
3. One paragraph about your outreach strategy.

→ no class on October 3

→ Preparing October 10
On October 10 we will meet one-on-one to talk about your first Experiment and Outreach. You only have to show up for the assigned time—the meetings are 20 minutes and back to back. That means if you show up 15 min late you will have 5 min to talk about your progress. Be in time!

What to bring:
1. Experiment 1 – Prototype (iterations)
2. Documentation of outreach (can be in process)
3. At least two spreads of your research magazine – printed or digital, depending on your final delivery.

→   October 10

12:10-12:30 Alice
12:30-12:50 Christian
12:50-1:10 Sachi
1:10-1:30 Talia
1:30-1:50 Mariana
1:50-2:10 BREAK
2:10-2:30 Megan
2:30-2:50 Sherifa
2:50-3:10 Jun
3:10-3:30 Cheryl
3:30-3:50 Lika
3:50-4:10 BREAK
4:10-4:30 Paula
4.30-4.50 Yuchen
4.50-5.10 Michelle
5.10-5.30 Kiki

→ Inspiration

Reading Design is an online archive of critical writing about design. The idea is to embrace the whole of design, from architecture and urbanism to product, fashion, graphics and beyond. The texts featured date from the nineteenth century right up to the present moment but each one contains something which remains relevant, surprising or interesting to us today.


→ Primary research
Think about stakeholders within your area of interest. Identify a group that you would like to reach out to and start to think about which information you need and a strategy to get this. This could be personal interviews, a google form or any other channel that brings you in touch with people who have meaningful information about the topic. Document your ideas, questions, a survey concept on your research blog.

→ Secondary research
Find three readings (books, articles) relevant to your research interest and post a link to them on your research blog. Add at least one sentence why this is relevant to your research.

→ Experiment 1
Bring 20 (twenty!) sketches of a first experiment you would like to conduct within your research interest. These can be extremely simple drawings (single line) in your notebook or on paper. Don’t go into details!

→ Research Publication
Use two entries from your research blog and design pages following the layout you developed for the image archive spreads.

Α–Π. Digital? Non-digital? Authorship? Critical? Human author meets algorithm and database.
Α–Π is an initiative by Karolis Kosas

Volumes is a catalogue, a collection of captions, images, a series of invitations, a bookmark left in places where the editors would like someone to stop. Or is it the actual archiving of an object in real time? In any case, it is what accompanies, completes and supports a research , somewhere between an open book and an exhibition, with a permeability flowing constantly from one another.

week 2 | Building your research archive

→ Your Research Publication
Select ten images out of your PECHA KUCHA that seem most relevant to you. Find for each of those ten images nine additional ones that are thematically connected. That gives you ten collections of ten images. Design ten spreads with these images; put one collection on one spread and add keywords or short descriptions from your PECHA KUCHA.

These are the first steps towards your research publication that will document all your thesis activities. Make sure you design an editorial system that you will be able to use for the rest of the year. You can decide if you want this to be more like a magazine, more like a book, if it will be printed or digital. Format, size, colors – all is up to you as long as you create a valuable piece of communication design that you are proud to develop further.

Print three out of the ten spreads and bring them to class.
Upload all spreads as one PDF to our shared DRIVE.

→ Your Research Blog
Add at least one new post to your research blog: Identify an object in your every day habitat and write in 200 words how this could be meaningful for your thesis project: Would you like to improve it? Would you like to bring it into a new context? How is it connected to communication design? How would your life be without this object?
Of course you are free to archive more things and thoughts on your blog.

→ Readings
There are two new readings in our google drive.
002 Finding_Topics_Question_Wayne_Booth
003 From_Topic_To_Question_Wayne_Booth_B

→ Inspiration

DALE magazine

Grid: An introduction and How-to by Andrew Maher

Ellen Lupton explains the history and usage of the grid

Printing your research publication at the end of the year? Might consider these and use their specs from the beginning


NY Art Book Fair

week 1 | What makes a good research topic?

→ Research Blog
(This will be your container to collect, link and archive)
Create a research blog (e.g. tumblr) for Thesis 1 and send me an email with the URL so I can link it from the class website BEFORE Friday, September 16, 10am.
Use the next two weeks for your two first entries:
Explore the physical: Visit any exhibition in the city – it can be a museum, a gallery, a science park … Take your camera and take a few images (where allowed) Write in at least 200 words why this exhibition — or any object within — seems relevant to your thesis.
Explore the digital: Find one article online (make sure you select a source you’ll trust) and write in at least 200 words how this article is relevant to your thesis.
Post both texts (and images if available) to your research blog.

→ Reading
Join the Google Doc folder that I will invite you to and download the reading “What makes a good research topic”. READ IT.

→ Prepare a Pecha Kucha for 9/12
Prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation (20 images, no Text, PDF) and be able to talk about each image you select for 20 sec. Make a test at home.
There are two options:
1.) If you already have an area of interest, this presentation should cover all perspectives, concepts and ideas you can think about. Don’t limit yourself but broaden up.
2.) If you do not have a specific area of interest, select 20 things that you consider relevant for living in 2016.
This is an early but crucial moment in your Thesis Project. We will take the time as a group to discuss your presentation and help finding directions.
3.) Upload the PDF to the shared google drive into the folder PECHA KUCHA

→ Research Publication
(This will be the curated documentation of your thesis process)
Take the 20 images you used for your Pecha Kucha and design a layout for your research publication. Images only, your choice of format, any number of pages.
Upload a PDF of it to the folder RESEARCH PUBLICATION 1


Browse some recent creative projects. For example on manystuff, dezeen, The Next Web or Coolhunting

The Atlantic Photos of the week

CD Thesis website:

Documentation starts now

Electrolibrary – Making of a diploma project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice (Poland), inspired by El Lissitzky’s manifesto published in 1923.

Blogs/websites of thesis students:
Sybil Layous: Postmodern Postmortem
Hartwick Hanson: Thesis 2011

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest on TED and on his website

Students & Syllabus