Project 1: Narrative Strategies for Objects, instructed by Rob Walker
Rob Walker will lecture on how to develop narratives around objects. Students will engage in close observation, archive research, and other means of data gathering, and then experiment with strategies to illuminate an object’s significance through storytelling. Typical assignments: Typical assignments: Bring in an object that has some kind of personal significance to you that no one could guess by looking at it. Write a 300–500-word story about the object. Next find an object that you have noticed or paid more attention to since the pandemic crisis began and write a 500-word story about it, based on research, which brings it to life.
Project 2: Studio Profiles, instructed by Adam Harrison Levy
This project launches with lectures on Interviewing Skills and Profile Writing. Participants will then perform exercises to develop their interviewing techniques, prepare questions, and do background research, before interviewing several well-known designers. Using the interview as primary research, each student will write a studio profile for critique in a review session. Typical interviewees: Andy Bernheimer Architecture, BIG, Flavor Paper, Met Media Lab, Abbott Miller at Pentagram, MOS, Rockwell Group Lab, Michael Sorkin Studio, Gael Towey, Viñoly Architects. Typical assignment: Read up on the designer you’ll be interviewing and prepare a list of questions based on an assigned aspect of your profile (i.e. biography, studio philosophy, or working practice). These questions will be workshopped with course instructors. After the interview is completed, write a 500-word profile of your subject.
Project 3: Reviews, instructed by Robin Pogrebin
Participants will be introduced to the principles of reviewing across genres and across media. After some initial exercises to hone writing skills, the development of a point of view and argument, and some reading exercises to examine exemplars of the form, participants will write their own reviews and present them for critique. Typical assignment: Write a 500-word review of a design- or architecture-related exhibition. Typical guests: Roberta Smith, art critic, The New York Times.
Project 4: Essaying the Essay—the City Space in Shutdown, instructed by Jennifer Kabat
An essai is a test and essaying means to attempt, to try something out, give it a shot and explore. We are in an unprecedented moment when the world has been turned upside down. Students are asked to look for something that intrigues them, that they’ve seen and are curious about in the urban sphere of “social distance.” It might be a stray bit of language developed for this moment, the kinds of weeds that grow on a patch of land you see from your window, a plaque on your building, the park you walk in every afternoon. It’s something that has caught your eye in lockdown whether you’re in Stockholm, Sioux City, San Francisco, Staten Island, or Seoul. This quote from Walter Benjamin from “A Berlin Chronicle” might serve as a guide: “Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance—nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city—as one loses oneself in a forest—that calls for quite a different schooling. Then, signboards and street names, passersby, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest, like the startling call of a bittern in the distance, like the sudden stillness of a clearing with a lily standing erect at its center.” Reflections, pp. 8-9.
Project 5: Speaking of the Streets, instructed by Craig Taylor
The Speaking of the Streets Project is a two‐week‐long assignment that culminates in the production of a play built from the scenes and scraps of dialogue collected by students. The project will focus on both monologues and duologues. The study of dialogue will be both a training exercise to sharpen skills of observation and will become a work of collaborative art. The project will allow us to express, in a kaleidoscopic view, an array of diverse voices. It will combine fiction and non‐fiction. For this revised course, we will look at the current global pandemic, and how it leaves its mark on our conversations, interactions, and language.
Project 6: Engineered Nature, instructed by Karrie Jacobs
In ways good and bad, the designed environment and the natural one have overlapped and merged. Our cities contain increasingly sophisticated works of architecture that mimic or replace long lost wetlands or create wildflower meadows on rooftops or alpine slopes atop waste treatment plants or inside shopping malls. We will explore this phenomenon in a variety of ways including lectures, group discussions, conversations with special guests, individual field trips in which the students look for examples in their own immediate surroundings and critique them for the group. The class will culminate in a writing project based on group research. Readings will include essays by Adriaan Geuze, Menno Schilthuizen, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Neri Oxman.
Project 7: Editing and Publishing, instructed by Molly Heintz
Students collectively edit, co-design, produce, and disseminate a publication featuring work produced during the Intensive. The format is discussed and determined by the group, changing year to year. Previous formats have included: an exhibition/installation, tweet storms, manifesto handbills, and declamation in public space documented by video. In this workshop students also learn best practices for pitching their work to editors and receive guidance on publishing their work following the Intensive.
Sample Guest Project: Writing About Digital Artifacts, instructed by Virginia Heffernan
How do you analyze and write about digital artifacts, including Instagram filters, tweets, Google Maps, Pinterest boards, Spotify playlists, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and just about anything else made of bytes and pixels? Students will learn a theoretical groundwork for writing about the Internet; how to summon extra-linguistic artifacts in language; techniques for close but detached readings of individual artifacts; the role of a critic’s existing online avatar in developing her authentic and authoritative critical voice; and the challenge, in turbulent times, of handling digital objects, some of which are culturally radioactive. Typical assignment: Students identify an artifact of their choosing and write a 300 word essay essay that puts that artifact into context of (1) the network it rides (2) the cultural and digital ecosystem it lives in and (3) the Internet itself. For those less digitally inclined, these artifacts can even illuminate the non-digital world. What is it like to be non-digital, undigitizable? The augmented-reality figures in Pokemon Go illuminate the natural and built world on which they are juxtaposed. The corrosion of a wet phone ties the virtual dance on its screen to materials that can rust and decay.