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Ausgewählte Thesis-Projekte (1) MA in Visueller Kommunikation und Bildforschung

Eine Auswahl an Thesis-Arbeiten aus den vergangenen Jahren. Diese vermitteln einen Einblick in die thematische Breite des Studienganges „Master of Arts in Visueller Kommunikation und Bildforschung“.

Léa Girardin: How long is a Banana a Banana?

Ex. 1: A candle in a box. A candle on a candlestick.
A candle that is burning. A candle that stopped burning. No candle any more, but melted wax on the table.

Ex. 2: Pieces of wood on the floor. Joseph, a carpenter, takes the wood and makes a cradle. The wood has now become an object and, thus, our perception of it changes; we forget the materiality of wood and, instead, see a finished object appear, which has us perceive it as a construction.

Did the candle disappear? Is the wood no longer wood, but only a cradle? Or a wooden cradle? Transformation is a key word which can be used to define
what turns objects into objects.

The main thread I followed for this undertaking was that of studying and probing various concepts of identity, originality, and essence: both in human – human relations and human – object relations. I aimed to establish a broad scope of possible answers and new questions about what makes things the way they are, and how their appearance influences our way of perceiving them, using different technics such as photography, installation, mise en scène, 3D software, face recognition software... 

Never before have there been as many objects as today; they have become a main component of our lives, filling our everyday life with their presence. At the same time, we were never so alienated from the concept of an object, as we do not participate anymore in the making of most things. An increasingly smaller number of people possess enough craftsmanship skills to produce their own goods, and objects have thus become replaceable items of low quality and value.

A hundred years ago, as industrialization set in, the world was on the brink of becoming the one we know today. Parallel to this, objects were suddenly given an altogether special place by surrealist artists, who were pioneers in establishing a new way of looking at things. They aimed at creating the unfamiliar within the familiar, often recontextualizing objects and giving them back their lost magic. To the surrealists, objects were silent carriers of multifarious potentialities and used as tools to reveal the workings of inner worlds to the public.

Today, a new philosophy, OOO (Object Oriented Ontology), has taken on the task of challenging our anthropocentric view of the world (and objects), by placing the angle of view on the objects themselves and asking: what does the table see?, claiming that objects also leave traces that go beyond their lives and original purpose.

But what makes an object an object?

This question was the basis of a reflection on family resemblance and identity through the ages and in various places.

One important aspect of objects, as shown above, is their ability to undergo transformations, lose their original form (change or break – a somewhat more negative aspect) and take on another shape, either on their own or as made by man. By playing with different tools to influence the appearance of the people and objects in my work, I wanted to test the limits for an object to still remain itself and find out, where it begins to lose its essence and becomes something else. In this process, many questions arise, such as when does one object start being another? Does it lose its essence in the process? What defines the identity of an object? Its shape or its substance, its material?

The main practical work focuses on everyday objects that accompany us in our daily lives: kitchenware, computers, chairs, ... that underwent various transformation processes in order to test their limits, as well as test the limits of the viewers. On the other hand, the written thesis will focus on a broad notion of what an object (an object here can, e.g., be: people, sand- storms, or spoons) is by investigating the concepts of form / materiality, identity / difference, essence / originality and, finally, perception.

Konstantin Emerenko: Generating Meaning Through Visual Matter.

This project is about a theme, which plays a very important role in graphic design and visual communication. Moreover, in a broader overview, word and image topics include a wide range of different disciplines, from linguistics and the theatre to painting and sculpture. “The difference between word and image is simply the difference between hearing and seeing, speaking and depicting.” (1)

The present research mostly refers to printed media, in particular to multipage publications such as books, catalogues, brochures, etc.

One of the main purposes of this project was a fusion of personal practical experience and theoretical knowledge that was developed before and has already been evaluated and recognized. The present study is an attempt to look at the problem of words versus images from the point of view of analysis; in other words: to try and figure out what we are dealing with, what kind of material we have and how these different elements are linked and work together; and what points of view and how many procedures we have to find convincing solutions. It was also highly important to figure out a certain hierarchy based on the different phenomena, definitions, and terms depending on the matter of research. Knowing this, it is possible to establish a broad number of design variations and creative ways regarding different topics and tasks.

Without doubt, and this is highly important, typography in this project assumes the main role. This is a crucial point of the whole study. Typography plays the role of combining and merging verbal and visual languages because it includes some characteristics of both. It acts as a core element in a layout-creating process and space-organizing system as well. Based on this, questions of the general rhythm of a book, the composition of double pages, visual and metric combinations of text and image, all have quite a strong reference to typography. Besides, the time and space categories which the designer operates with in his work are, more or less, related to typographic issues, because Lessing’s classic argument as to images seen in space and words read in time, is not complete. Words can also be seen in space and images in time.

However, we have to note here that typography as a central point, applied to this research, is not necessary as a starting point of the design process. A designer has a very wide range of possibilities, from choosing an initial point of inspiration to using different printing techniques and materials which refer to visual values and haptic perceptions, for instance.

Coming back to the main theme of the project, it is quite interesting to note, that the research process itself did not simply consist in finding an answer to an already established schema. In contrast to this, an investigation based on a design in combination with different theoretical views, sometimes has exciting results which may change our mind when perceiving obvious things. This process was not a task with a known answer in the end. Moreover, it is probably not feasible to provide a strictly defined conclusion suitable for everybody as a rule or guideline. In short:, we can talk about a certain structure of different visual relationships in a context of word and image which has a theoretical justification and could be used in practice. Even retreating from this formal approach could very well help to distinguish interesting and convincing aspects, providing an acceptance of the approach as such.


W J T Mitchell, “Word and Image” in: Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff, Critical Terms for Art History. University of Chicago Press 1996.

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