The Visual Archive

Critical Thinking and Making — Spring  2024

April 24, 2024
by Pascal

WEEK 14 | Archive ⇄ Context

Your Final Archive
Your final archive must include:
(1) at least 100 records (images, visuals);
(2) each record needs to have a caption;
(3) your introduction of at least 500 words incorporating references to at least two sources (articles, books, or the works of artists/designers that have served as inspiration for your project).


Use the questions collected in the document “Archive ⇄ Introduction” in our shared google drive to think about your project. These questions encourage reflection on the purpose, context, and history, as well as methods, techniques, dissemination, and audience considerations. As you respond, integrate references to two sources, such as articles, books, or works of artists or designers that have served as inspiration for your project. Weave these elements into a cohesive text spanning 500 words. Not all questions may be relevant based on the direction your final archive has taken.


Updated schedule
5/1 Studio Week
You’re welcome to utilize class time for working on your final archive. I’m here for check-ins, whether in person or via Zoom. Additionally, as a makeup for the missed class two weeks ago, you can request an extra Zoom session at a time that doesn’t necessarily coincide with our regular class hours.
5/8 Finals
Sharing your final archive.

“Archiving a second”
#oneSecond by Philipp Adrian. Visualizing 5522 Tweets within the same Second.
“Archiving a building”
concept by Sion Riley

April 17, 2024
by Pascal

WEEK 12 | Archive⇄Material Culture

So far, we explored narratives, arrangement & order, space, typologies, color, and time. This week, we will be looking into materiality and reading surfaces to create a visual response to the physical world through the lens of your research inquiry.
     Material culture is the aspect of social reality grounded in the objects and architecture that surround people. It includes the usage, consumption, creation, and trade of objects as well as the behaviors, norms, and rituals that the objects create or take part in.
      Here is an introduction: What is Material Culture? by Sophie Woodward on YouTube — it is OPTIONAL, watch it if you have time and specific interest.

Prepare for next week:
How does your research inquiry manifest itself on the Earth’s surface? For instance, where are the objects you’re investigating manufactured? How are they transported, involving infrastructures and energy requirements? Additionally, how does this impact nature and geography in a broader sense?Use Google Earth or any other satellite imagery archive to capture three recordings (screenshots).

How does your research inquiry manifest in your everyday? Look at material, textures, surfaces, structures and use paper and pen to create three rubbings.

Use the six recordings you created as a jumping-off point to craft a concise 100-word introduction to your archive. How does it connect to planetary themes but also to your daily life?

Additionally, outline the step-by-step sequence of actions you will follow to create a recording for your archive (“the instruction”).

Print all of the above (no required format), and bring it to class.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is seher-1-1024x689.jpg
Seher Anand
(Visual Archive, Fall 20)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 81028.01.width-2000.jpg

Emmet Gowin, Large Circle Complex near the Columbia River, Lincoln County, Washington, 1991 © Emmet Gowin, exhibition at Pace Gallery

Also, look at these:

Necessary Lines, Marco Cadioli

Square with concentric circles, Marco Cadioli

Rock Drawings, Richard Long

April 3, 2024
by Pascal

WEEK 10/11 | Typology & Archive Pitch

I will be out of town next week—we will discuss the make up options in class. For our class on April 17th, prepare the following and bring your laptop to class:


Typology: The Animated Archive

  • Use all 12 images of your typology (add more if you want) to create an animated gif. Think about the characteristics of your research inquiry to identify an appropriate timing for the frames. For example, you can create a “flashy animation” showing all frames with “no delay.” You can also display frames using different durations to focus on specific content. Don’t hesitate to experiment. Use any software of your choice that allows different timing for the frames — here is a short tutorial for Photoshop: How to make an animated GIF in Photoshop 
  • Bring the animated gif as a file on your laptop to class.

First ideas for your final archive

Generate three visual prototypes to introduce your concept for the final archive. This stage is preliminary, so feel free to utilize found material to illustrate your idea. Add these prototypes to your research document. Choose one of the readings below (skim all) to set the context for your archive.

Chloe Abidi, 2022, The Visual Archive class,
Luca Grondin, 2019, The Visual Archive class, Website

March 28, 2024
by Pascal

Week 9 | Midterms

We will hold individual Zoom meetings for midterms on April 4th. Please reserve a time slot by signing up on this spreadsheet.

Add to your research document:

  • A reflection on Field School (see below, Week 8)
  • Drafts/ Sketches/ Ideas for your typology project (see below, Week 7)
Delcy Morelos: El abrazo @ Dia Chelsea

March 26, 2024
by Pascal

Week 8 | Field School

We will meet in front of David Zwirner (525 W 19th) at 12.45pm and visit the galleries below. Field School will be a mix of shared and individual exploration—leaving room for you to visit the gallery of your choice. We will end at Printed Matter (231 11th Ave) with time to look at experimental publications or additional exhibitions.


Field School Observations:

  • Before we go, click through the galleries/exhibitions and find things that resonate with you.
  • Bring a camera/phone and make sure you document the day, including the work inside the galleries and things you come across on your way.
  • Focus on the methodologies of the artists. For example, what would their instructions be if they gave you an assignment to create the next ten images for your archive?
  • At home, look at all images and select the ones (5-10) that speak to your research inquiry (directly or indirectly) and add them to your research document.
  • Add a short paragraph to describe how these are meaningful to your research process.
Pipilotti Rist @ Hauser & Wirth
Pipilotti Rist @ Hauser & Wirth

March 20, 2024
by Pascal

Field School Preparations

Field School (until Friday, March 22, 6pm)
On March 27, we will visit selected galleries in Chelsea. Each student will propose an exhibition that resonates with the themes of our class (archives, typologies, form-making) or aligns with their individual research topic.

Include a link to the gallery in this document, along with a brief explanation for why you chose it. I will share the final itinerary early next week.
See Saw Gallery Guide — APP (recommended)
GalleriesNow — Website

March 6, 2024
by Pascal
Comments Off on WEEK 7 | Archive ⇄ Typology

WEEK 7 | Archive ⇄ Typology

A typology is a classification according to a general type or attribute. Through the lens of your research inquiry, identify one attribute to create an archive of at least 12 recordings. The shared attribute can be found within the “subject” (form, color, size, …) or the recording methodology (stencil printing, photographed from a specific perspective, material rubbings).


Reading & Watching

Making: Experiment 4 — Typology

  • Come up with three ideas for your typology following the definition above.
  • Illustrate your ideas with visual material—your own or found—in your research document.
    (This is not mandatory for the first class after spring break.)

Additional References

Exhibition at the MET, 2022
Using a large-format view camera, the Bechers methodically recorded blast furnaces, winding towers, grain silos, cooling towers, and gas tanks with precision, elegance, and passion. Their rigorous, standardized practice allowed for comparative analyses of structures that they exhibited in grids of between four and thirty photographs. They described these formal arrangements as “typologies” and the buildings themselves as “anonymous sculpture.”  
Karel Martens, Untitled, 2012
Letterpress monoprint on found card, 148 x 210 mm, Unique (KM2012-05)
Christian Marclay’s photogram, @Fraenkel

February 21, 2024
by Pascal
Comments Off on WEEK 5 & Week 6 | Archive ⇄ Time

WEEK 5 & Week 6 | Archive ⇄ Time

How does time translate into an archive? For our next experiment, you will make recordings during a specific hour of your choice, anytime between Feb 28 and March 5. The archive needs to have exactly 12 records with captions; its title will be the date and hour. Presentation/ dissemination requirements: all records need to be visible at the same time, on paper. Due: March 6


Reading & Watching

Making: Experiment 3 — One Hour

  • Sign up for a time slot in this google spreadsheet.
  • Draft a concept for the One Hour assignment (use your research document to answer these questions and collect references images/ sketches):
  • Which specific hour will you archive and why?
  • What are the recording instruments you will be using?
  • What is the visual language you are planning to use (bring examples)?
  • What will be the captions?
  • How will you share the archive? (Printed on paper, on screen, format, …)

Updated Schedule

  • Feb 28 — Individuals (Time)
  • March 6 — Final/ Time
  • March 13 — Spring Break
  • March 20 — Typology I
  • March 27 — Field Trip
  • April 3 — Typology II

Archiving a historic moment:
Julie Héneault: The Wereld, 2013 “Zwarte Strepen” Interview @GRAFIK
Archiving a second:
#oneSecond by Philipp Adrian. Visualizing 5522 Tweets within the same Second.
Archiving an asynchronous moment:
Penelope Umbrico: 541,795 Suns from Sunsets from Flickr (Partial) 1/23/06, 2006
Detail of 2000 machine c-prints, each 4 x 6 in

February 14, 2024
by Pascal
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WEEK 4 | Archive ⇄ Space

While you are defining your individual research inquiry we will explore experimental ways of visual form-making. These methodologies can inspire the visual direction of your final archive project.
     This week’s experiment takes you out in the streets (if that is safe for you) for field studies and footage gathering.


Reading & Watching

Making: Experiment 2 — Urban Collage

  • Step 1: Identify
    Based on your research inquiry, decide for a physical location near to you. A street, a building, a corner, a park, a room, (…)
  • Step 2: Observe
    Take a camera (mobile phone) and and spend at least two hours at your location. As a visual journalist, study the environment from different perspectives (zoom in, zoom out) and take pictures of lines & shapes, positive and negative spaces, patterns & textures, and typography & letters. 
  • Step 3 Create
    Tutorial: Using Photoshop to create the Urban Type Collages. Get the password from Canvas.
    • Use your images to create 7 collages each of them using one of the “Principles of Visual Language” as a guiding method.
    • 1. 7×7 inches, black on white only.
    • 2. Apply the demonstrated method combining: Image>Adjustment>Threshold and “Multiply” layers.
    • 3. Take into consideration how your seven compositions become a series to represent the same inquiry in different ways. 
    • 4. Upload to google drive, week 5, “Urban Collages”.
    • Print and crop your collages for class, write the princple and caption on the back.

→ Martin Venezky’s work in the letterform archive.
→ Appetite Engineers Promotion

Optional additional reading:
If you enjoyed last’s week reading, I recommend to take at look at: Research in the Archival Multiverse
Chapter 1: Archival and Recordkeeping Traditions in the Multiverse and Their Importance for Researching Situations and Situating Research by Anne J. Gilliland

February 7, 2024
by Pascal
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WEEK 3 | Archive ⇄ Order

The records (images) of your archive will tell a story. How does the order/arrangement of visuals impact the narrative you are intending to convey?
   This week, we will explore ways to arrange visual material and implement elements & principles of visual language.


Reading & Watching

  • Short lecture introducing: Aby Warburg, Lorna Simpson, Willy Fleckhaus (password on Canvas).
  • Van Alphen, Ernest. Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media. London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Introduction (pp 7-20)

Making: Experiment 1 — Bilderatlas
Create 3 plates of a speculative atlas about your research topic

  • Based on the images used in class, decide for a research topic—it’s just for this week not for the semester.
  • Use Smithsonian Open Access to find visual records (images) of your research topic in the Smithsonian archives.
  • Use 16 images—a combination of your own images and images from the Smithsonian archive to create 3 plates.
  • Each plate must include all 16 images (they might not be fully visible though). Pay attention to the content of your visual records (images).
  • Look for phrases/ inspiration in the reading to create three entirely different layouts (narrative, collective memory, postmodern, active/passive).
  • You can use any software or analog process for this assignment. Don’t write anything on the plates.
  • Bring to class:
    3 plates, each on a tabloid size paper (11 x 17 inches)
Examples of plate layout. Your plates should look entirely different!

Research Document
Create a research document to collect everything you use/create in this class. Follow this example.

Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, Re-created for the exhibition at HKW, Berlin, 2020
Willy Fleckhaus, twen, 1962
Batia Suter talks about her process to compile “Parallel Encyclopedia #2” — the effect of combining images in unexpected ways.

Willy Fleckhaus
Article on It’s Nice That
Spreads on Pinterest

Aby Warburg
About the Mnemosyne Atlas (The Warburg Institute)

Lorna Simpson
Lorna Simpson Studio
Studio Visit @TATE

Additional Introduction to the grid:
→ Ellen Lupton explains the history and usage of the grid
→ An Introduction to Grids and How-to by Andrew Maher

January 31, 2024
by Pascal
Comments Off on WEEK 2 | Archive ⇄ Narrative

WEEK 2 | Archive ⇄ Narrative

“Seeing per se means thinking about the world and this actually takes place on different levels at the same time,” says Wolfgang Tillmans in an interview for Fondation Beyeler.
     Reflecting on his artistic approach, Arthur Jafa has said that he’s “driven by an impulse to consolidate things that were there, but were dispersed.” (Triple Canopy)
     This week we will expand from one object to 12 images that tell a story. How important are order, sequence, and arrangement?


Reading & Watching

  • Charles and Ray Eames:
    Powers of Ten
  • Wolfgang Tillmans:
    Interview Fondation Beyeler
  • Arthur Jafa:
    APEX @MoMA (graphic content)
  • Research for people who think they rather create, Vis Dirk, pp 25-31.
  • Read all peer responses to the archive screening (you will find them in the week 2 folder).


  • After reading all peer responses, reach out to at least one of your peer students in an email. You can share a thought, inspiration, ask a question, (…). The content of the message will NOT be shared in class but please cc me (ONLY) on your first email so I can see you initiated a conversation.
  • Select one object from your PECHA KUCHA and find 11 related images. These can be found images, your own, or a mix. Print these 12 images. 4×6 inch (landscape or portrait). We will use them in class for a workshop—don’t select images you feel uncomfortable sharing.
  • After watching/reading this week’s articles, look at your images and come up with ten ways to give them an order. This can be based on content, form, or speculation. Write down each way of organizing as a one-line instruction and add them to the shared document “Visual Narrative” in the week 3 folder of our google drive.

August 28, 2019
by Pascal
Comments Off on WEEK 1 | Archive ⇄ Research

WEEK 1 | Archive ⇄ Research

This class explores the relationship between form and content: How is meaning constructed and communicated through visual language?
    Through observing, collecting, analyzing, writing, and form making, students apply design processes involving visual research, concept generation, and craft skills.
     Driven by research interest, you will use digital and analog means to build visual archives. These collections are approached as a resource of critical inquiry and to respond to current socio-political issues.
    So, what is your research interest?


Reading & Watching

  • Archive as Method. Screening. (password on Canvas). As a response, summarize your interest in archives in 200 words—use at least one examples from the screening. Find an external definition of what an archive is (= not written by yourself but found in a book, an institutional website, …) and add this & source at the end of your paragraph. Work in the google doc in our shared google drive WEEK 2. Submit by Wednesday, 9/6, 6pm ECT
  • John Berger: Ways of Seeing, pages 7-10 (min)
  • Hillary Collins: What makes a good research topic?

A Pecha Kucha presentation

  • Take pictures of 5 objects that represent your research interest.
  • All 5 objects can represent the same topic or diverse areas of interest.
  • Create a PDF with 5 pages, each page has one object.
  • Upload the PDF to the shared google drive into the folder week 2: PECHA KUCHA
  • Be able to talk about each image for 20 sec.
  • Make a test at home!
Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, panel C (recovered, detail) | Photo: Wootton / fluid; Courtesy The Warburg Institute

→ In the 1920s, the historian of art and culture Aby Warburg (1866-1929) created his Bilderatlas Mnemosyne tracing recurring visual themes and patterns across time. Last fall, an exhibition at HKW Berlin restored the last documented version of this atlas.


→ Archive as inquiry: objects of the everyday. Belgian photographer Barbara Iweins classifies and archives her personal belongings in KATALOG

Bernd and Hilla Becher @TATE
→ Hans-Peter Feldmann, Portrait, 1994
→ Herman de Vries, from earth: everywhere @designboom | Journal de Maroc | Branches of trees
→ Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne: Warburg Institute | Exhibition in Berlin this fall @HKW
→ Mario Klingman, X Degrees of Separation
→ Kelly Walters, With a Cast of Colored Stars
→ Mishka Henner, Astronomical
→ Observational Practices Lab: Atlas of Everyday Objects — In the Age of Global Social Isolation