The Visual Archive

Critical Thinking and Making — Spring  2024

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

WEEK 5 & Week 6 | Archive ⇄ Time

One Hour ⇄ One Page
Due: March 6
Document one hour in a micro-archive. This specific hour can be any time from Feb 28 to 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.

A Modest Manifesto for Museums, Orhan Pamuk
→ Interview with Penelope Umbrico
Information Overload
Claire Bishop on the superabundance of research-based art

Prepare for our individual meeting on Feb 28:
→ Sign up for a time slot in this google spreadsheet.
→ 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
Comments Off on 2024 WEEK 4 | Archive ⇄ Space Experiment 2: Urban Collage

2024 WEEK 4 | Archive ⇄ Space Experiment 2: Urban Collage

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.

→ Experiment 2: Urban Type Collages. Find the password on Canvas.
Beautiful (Then Gone). A short documentary on the work and life of San Francisco designer, Martin Venezky. (14min)

→ Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics, Chapter 5, pp 118-137.
→ Principles of Visual Language. Kennedy Art Center.

Experiment 2 — Urban (Type) Collage
(It is ok to not include type)
Print and crop your collages for class!

→ 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
Comments Off on WEEK 3 | Archive ⇄ Structure Experiment 1: Bilderatlas

WEEK 3 | Archive ⇄ Structure Experiment 1: Bilderatlas

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.

→ Watch
Short lecture introducing: Aby Warburg, Lorna Simpson, Willy Fleckhaus (password on Canvas).

→ Read
Van Alphen, Ernest. Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media. London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Introduction (pp 7-20)

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

  1. Based on the images used in class, decide for a research topic—it’s just for this week not for the semester.
  2. Use Smithsonian Open Access to find visual records (images) of your research topic in the Smithsonian archives.
  3. Use 16 images—a combination of your own images and images from the Smithsonian archive to create 3 plates.
  4. Each plate must include all 16 images (they might not be fully visible though). Pay attention to the content of your visual records (images).
  5. Look for phrases/ inspiration in the reading to create three entirely different layouts (narrative, collective memory, postmodern, active/passive).
  6. You can use any software or analog process for this assignment. Don’t write anything on the plates.
  7. 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 2024 WEEK 2 | Archive ⇄ Narrative (12 Images)

2024 WEEK 2 | Archive ⇄ Narrative (12 Images)

“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?

→ Asynchronous
Read, Watch, Write

1. Charles and Ray Eames:
Powers of Ten
2. Wolfgang Tillmans:
Interview Fondation Beyeler
3. Arthur Jafa:
APEX @MoMA (graphic content)

1. Research for people who think they rather create, Vis Dirk, pp 25-31.
2. Read all peer responses to the archive screening (you will find them in the week 2 folder).


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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?

Read, Watch, Write

  1. 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
  2. John Berger: Ways of Seeing, pages 7-10 (min)
  3. Hillary Collins: What makes a good research topic?

A Pecha Kucha presentation

  1. Take pictures of 5 objects that represent your research interest.
  2. All 5 objects can represent the same topic or diverse areas of interest.
  3. Create a PDF with 5 pages, each page has one object.
  4. Upload the PDF to the shared google drive into the folder week 2: PECHA KUCHA
  5. Be able to talk about each image for 20 sec.
  6. 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