Week 2 – Thursday

Back in the 1940s, psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel made  a minimal animated film using basic abstract shapes. Heider and Simmel used it in an experiment: They asked people to watch the film and describe what they saw happening.

Try it out yourself.

What Heider and Simmel discovered is that many people instinctively saw very human stories unfold. In those simple shapes, viewers often saw characters with emotions, motivations, and purpose.

More recently, the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC showed the Heider-Simmel film to seven comedians and asked them to narrate the action. The result is worth watching.

Are.na, a platform for collaborative research.

In class on Thursday, you were introduced to Are.na; a space to discover new ideas, find inspiration, and create an archive of the progress of your projects from concept through development.

The class Are.na account is here, Design 3A. This is where content connected to the 3 projects as well as special topics that come up in class this semester will be collected. By the end of the semester each student will have an Exhibition channel, a Publication channel, and a Service channel. Feel free to make other channels and use this for your research for other classes and interests you have. A Pizza channel of your very own, perhaps.

For those considering creating an instructional work for your Exhibition Project, I created an Are.na channel called, Instructional Works to guide you in your development and research going forward.

Note: If you would like me to suggest projects and readings related to your specific area of interest, add are.na user Design 3A as a collaborator to your Exhibition channel and I will connect blocks to it that I think will be helpful and inspirational for you.

Feel free to email me at hoffmelanie[at]gmail.com if you have questions about how to use are.na.


Due Tuesday 9/19

4 – 5 page proposal pdf:

  • Include your name and title of your project.
  • What is the subject matter?
  • Describe your research method.
  • Describe the user/viewer experience of the work.
  • How is it made? Describe the production.
  • What is the material, tool, and the process? Is it relevant and important for the piece?

Are.na research assignment:

  • Make an account on Are.na and follow Design 3A, (and find each other!)  https://www.are.na/design-3a/following
  • Make a channel called “Exhibition” with at least 10 blocks relating to your research for the exhibition project. You can include your own images and writing too! Upload them as a block.


Note: Please hold on to your two-by-twos from Thursday, I’d like to document them for the class blog.



Week 1 – Thursday

Between Either and Or,  examples from Thursday’s class


Shirin Neshat – Turbulent

The either / or of gender roles and cultural stereotypes.


Nina Katchadourian – Accent Elimination

The either / or of nationalities.


Amalia Ulman – Excellences and Perfections

The either / or of social categorization and internet tropes.


Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen – 75 Watt

The either / or of creative project categorization.


The Semiotic Square (AKA a Two by Two)

The semiotic square is a conceptual tool to help define the space between either and or.

Due Thursday 9/14 – Bring in a Semiotic Square on a piece of paper. 

  • Sketch or draw it in any medium (illustrator, photoshop, pencil) and plot 3-5 data points on it.
  • If you made it on a computer, print it out. 
  • The two axis of your two-by-two can be related to your exhibition project idea but don’t have to be.
  • In class we plotted animals as furry/hairless + big/small and we plotted human acts as socially acceptable/socially unacceptable + legal/illegal.


Helpful Links:

Either / Or Assignment Slides – Due Thursday 9/14

Class Survey – Due Thursday 9/14

Shared Thursday Class Notes





Between Either and Or

This year’s Undergraduate Annual Art Open theme will be “Between Either and Or”.
In Design 3A we will incorporate this open call as the first project in class.

You are asked to develop concepts and produce artifacts around this theme that are digitally produced and/or distributed and eventually presented in gallery space.

There is no restriction for the medium of expression for the display.

EXHIBITION DATES: October 24 – November 9, 2017
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Thursday, October 19

This theme has no direct reference to any other literature. Departing from this phrase you should come up with your own set of references to this theme.