On Visual Dossiers

Everything that we interrogate in this course is a possible topic for you. The trick will be to frame it in such a way that you can research quickly and more importantly, in a way that yields the most interesting questions and discoveries. You can work on a topic as broad as "program" in architecture, or "scripting," but you can also dissect a recent architectural competition, use the timeline of a firm to talk about historical developments…etc.

Your arguments need to be constructed visually and elaborated on in writing.

You will test a hypothesis and derive conclusions fast. Your dossier will be a document that will allow you to research something in depth later, or to receive a grant for further research. In this sense, it is a bit like a trailer or a title sequence for a topic that you are interested in and might want to pursue. You still need to nail your topic quickly so that you can begin collecting material for it throughout the semester.

Dossier Specs

Default format: French folded legal (8.5x14). 1000–2000 words of critical analysis, and your argument needs to be made visually as well. You should have a minimum of 10 spreads (maximum of 20 spreads), and you can treat these spreads as single tableaus or as 2 pages.

Sample Topics

The following are sample topics for your dossier, mostly in order to help you find a way to frame your own interests:

  • Park strategies for abandoned industrial sites (a historic look)
  • Whatever happened to low cost housing in America?
  • PS1 – several years of finalists. Who won, and what did they have to say about the use of computers and software in their work, about fabrication, about drawing, etc.? (a board game)
  • MVRDV (a profile)
  • What is a diagram? (a debate ghostwritten for several specific participants in architectural discourse of your choosing)
  • A Jencksian map of the course using our 6 coupled themes as a datum of sorts (a map)
  • A map of philosophical references used by authors we read or by several figures of your choice, including the key word as well as considering interrelationships between various philosophical references
  • Take a term, like "projective" or "performative," and collect all of its various uses in the texts we read for this course. Can you use it to describe something about the contemporary state of things? (a dictionary)
  • Who cares about fabrication? (an illustrated essay)
  • Old and new discussions on beauty (a "stereo" comparison)