Graduate Research Seminar 2013/2014

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Title page:


Your name

A thesis submitted to the Department of Media Design and Communication Piet Zwart Institute Willem de Kooning Academy

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master Design (MDes)

Adviser: Steve Rushton

Second Reader :

Rotterdam June 2, 2014

A Guide to Essay Writing

Thesis Guidelines


The deadline for the delivery of the thesis is on Monday, 02 June.

At this point it will be NOT possible to give you a grade on your thesis you will only at this point receive a grade on your project -- and therefore the right to show the graduation project in the final graduation show.   In the week following the project assessment (and therefore before the opening of the Graduation Show)  your thesis will  be read by two readers and the external examiner and you will be given detailed feedback on it and a grade for it.  Only at this point will you know that you have passed both practical and written parts of the final examination.

The thesis and project  feedback, along with your final grade, will be incorporated into your Judicia (the official document text that comes with your degree).

Tutorial support this week Steve will be available throughout Monday and Tuesday (26th & 27th) between 10:00 - 17:00 to give advice and help with the finishing touches to the thesis. On Wednesday (28th), we meet for our last Graduate Research Seminar. Here we will discuss the finishing touches needed.


Thesis review

Today, with eleven days ahead of the thesis deadline, it is time for the last thesis review.



1) Give a quick outline of the stage your thesis is at

2 ) Make plan of what needs to be done to finish

3) Set achievable aims for the day

Last time you each paired up with a reader/writer

Today pair up with the same reader/writer

Read this one person's text and discuss how the text has progressed since you last met. Give feedback on new version.

14:00 - 17:00

Work on your thesis

Steve will be on hand throughout the day to discuss how things are going

Tutorial support next week I will be available throughout Monday and Tuesday (26th & 27th) between 10:00 - 17:00 to give advice and help with the finishing touches to the thesis. Next Wednesday, for our last Graduate Research Seminar (28th) , we will discuss the finishing touches needed.



You will read and give comment on a peer's thesis draft

In the morning we read and give feedback in afternoon

Some questions to ask of the text you are reading:

Is the thesis clear?

What, in your opinion, is at stake in the text?

Make note of elements of ambiguity or points where you cannot understand the text.

Throughout the morning Steve will give feedback

Make link to latest version here:


Tutors reading

David will read: Nicole & Menno's draft

Annet : Niek & Marlon

Michael: Lasse: & Michaela

Barend: Nan & Yoana

Simon: Roel

TENT texts - deadline Monday 05.05

A short bio and abstract of your graduation project

Bio - 50 words

Abstracts - 60 words.

Below are outlines and bios from last year.

Please follow the same format because your texts will be used in different situations and this form is the most flexible.

Please write in the second person (‘X is an artist’) and give nationality using the following scheme:

use the 2 LETTER CODE from this site to denote your nationality

Upload your version here

Michaela bio&sort of an abstract

Lazer Lasse – abstract and bio

NaN - abstract and bio(draft?) updated

oyo ana – abstract and bio

Nicole – abstract and bio

Marlon - abstract and bio

Menno - abstract and bio

Roel - abstract and bio

Example one:

Lucian Wester

His work comprises a series of experiments, most of which have been created in the darkroom. A large triptych was created using the physical principal that light weakens over space, leaving the colour gradients on the photosensitive paper. The paper is exposed twice with complementary colours that merge into each other and created a vague greyish tint where they meet. In a number of smaller works an optic is placed on photosensitive paper during exposure. These works show the complexity of light's behaviour through optical instruments, for instance a lens focuses the light, but also reflects light inside and outside the optic.

Lucian Wester [NL] is a Rotterdam based artist. Through his work he connects scientific principles, phenomena and effects and tries to understand them in a context that is linked to the discourse of art and aesthetics, rather than to the discourse of evidence production. By deconstructing and abstracting photography he is able to reflect upon the medium and its status in our present society.


Eleanor Greenhalgh

Consentsus is a research project which relates emerging feminist practices of sexual consent to democratic decision-making more widely. Asking how we might move beyond the slogan "yes means yes", the project reveals the ways that "yes" and "no" are produced by the way questions are asked, and explores how we might encode a more radically collaborative model of consent in our digital and social tools.

Eleanor Greenhalgh [UK], is an artist and facilitator living in Rotterdam. Her work explores the ways that collaboration is mediated by both digital and social systems. With a background in grassroots organising and feminist activism, her projects create spaces for participatory research that tackles the conflicts and contradictions inherent in democratic practices.


Dave Young: In The Reposition Matrix workshop series, participants are invited to investigate the use of cybernetic military systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and the “disposition matrix”, a dynamic database of intelligence that produces protocological kill-lists for the US Department of Defense. Both of these systems contribute to a supposed dematerialisation of warfare: their technologies are semi-automated, networked, and almost invisible, operating kilometers up into the sky or beyond public Freedom of Information request access.

The workshops aim to reterritorialise the drone as a physical, industrially-produced technology of war through the creation of a new world map: a 'reposition matrix' that geopolitically situates the organisations, locations, and trading networks that play a role in the production of military drone technologies.

Dave Young [IE] is an artist/performer/educator originally from Dublin. His current research deals with the Cold War history of networked culture, exploring the emergence of cybernetic theory as an ideology of the information age, and the influence of military technologies on popular culture.




Key dates:

18 March - Interim assessment

6 May - Thesis drafts to 2nd readers

2 June - Thesis Deadline

A Guide to Essay Writing

Thesis Guidelines


Seminar agenda:

Note: the emphasis on this seminar is to build on the skills you used last year, taking notes of key texts, describing your work, contextualizing your practice in relation to other work and to relevant texts. The thesis is an extension of those practices and as we discussed last time, you have already developed a resource of texts (including your essay on method and your project proposal) that provide you with material that can be built upon for the thesis. BY THIS STAGE IN THE COURSE you should have (at the very minimum) a thesis abstract. This describes in a few lines what your thesis is about;

a thesis outline (broken down to chapters with a word count for each chapter);

a core bibliography (comprising five key texts at the most);

a collection of annotations of relevant texts; texts about your own work and practice.

these should be gathered together with a link from this page

it has been three weeks since our last meeting and I expect to see significant progress

Agenda for seminar:

I will be seeing you in small groups. This gives you the perfect opportunity to use the day to work exclusively on your thesis throughout the day.


10:30 we meet and quickly review progress – assess whether you have met or surpassed the aims you set for yourself last time (see below).

Steve will meet with the following groups at the these times




Nicole Hametner


Marlon Harder

Menno Harder

Niek Hilkmann


Yoana Buzova

Nan Wang

Michaela Lakova

16:00- 16:30

wrap up


1: THE MOST USEFUL RESOURCE YOU HAVE IS THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE SO FAR, your notes and essays you wrote last year, the essay on method you did at the end of the third trimester, the various drafts for your proposal and the proposal itself, provide you with a starting point for your thesis. The thesis needs to be a reflection of your practice so it will emerge from the written work you have done already. Therefore, for this seminar please come prepared and gather together all the written work you did last year. Also bring along the research material you have been using, books, articles, pdfs &c. If you have a large bibliography bring along the texts / books you consider most importent.

2: The seminar will be a full day every two weeks.

3: It begins at 10:00 so please be punctual and send apologies if you cannot make it.

4: Each session will begin with each of you giving a progress report and we will commit to achievable aims to be met on that day (for example: to read and take notes on a particular text; or to write an abstract or outline &c.).

5: We will review progress at the end of the session, and again, set realistic goals for work to be undertaken in the meantime.

6: The seminar will comprise individual work, group work and tutorials with me.

Thesis guideline (example)



abstract = 250 words

intro = 500 words

[existing material: proposal and essay on practice, notes from methods class - texts that relate to your work]

chapter 1

Project description and aims = 250 words

[existing material: proposal and essay on practice]

Past work and contextualisation = 1000 [existing material: 'what, how and why' texts; notes from methods class - texts that relate to your work.]

chapter 2

Continuation of past work and contextualisation: 1000 [existing material: 'what, how and why' texts; notes from methods class - texts that relate to your work.]

chapter 3:

genesis of current project = 1000 [existing material: proposal and essay on practice]

chapter 4

current project and contextualisation = 2000 [existing material: proposal and notes for proposal]

chapter 5

exhibition = 1000 words

Conclusion = 500 words

Word count 7500 words

see also




Earlier Drafts

Niek Hilkmann, Marlon Harder, Nicole Hametner, Michaela, Nan, yoana, LASSE, Menno, Roel


proposal draft guide

1) Very rough draft: See guidelines - use your own texts from last year! The essay on method in particular.

2) Identify research material & research strands (use your own texts from last year! The essay on method in particular. Texts by others, films, artworks, artists &c)

Project Proposal Outline

Three stages to proposal

Very rough drafts here please:


Niek Hilkmann, Marlon Harder, Nicole Hametner, Michaela, Nan, yoana, LASSE, Menno,

Upload latest version of very rough draft proposal above

next week:

bring your 3 key texts

bring a work that you find inspiring (art work, video, wbsite)

worklog = what are you working on today?


Steve will lead the following groups at the following times

14:00- 15:30

Marlon Harder

Yoana Buzova

Nicole Hametner

15:30 - 17:00

Nan Wang

Niek Hilkmann

Menno Harder

8-10-13 :

Group with Steve

14:00- 15:30: Mathijs, Roel, Lasse & Michaela

15:30 - 17:00 review of all drafts