Credits: 3

Schedule: 07.01.2020 - 19.05.2020

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation): 

Systems of Representation – A culture laboratory


04/02 – 18/05/2020 | 15:15-17:00

Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Dr. Urszula Pawlicka-Deger

Livia Nolasco-Rozsas, invited tutor

Details on the course content (applies in this implementation): 

During the year 2020 we have the opportunity to work with our colleagues at ZKM museum and other European museums. The collaboration is made possible through our Beyond Matters – Cultural Heritage at the Verge of Virtual Reality. Funded through a Creative Europe grant, the project will also enable selected participants to do paid internships/fellowships at these institutions. 

• LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Using a diversity of materials, including artefacts from the ZKM archives, participants learn about creating exhibition prototypes — including design narratives, collections of interactions, and interfaces – that allow audiences to explore notions related to the Post-Modern Condition. Initially outlined by French philosopher Jean François Lyotard, such condition implied on the one hand a break with modernity of grand narratives in favour of a new era of intersubjectivity, multiple perspectives and exchange valuations.

The course offers insights into a systems-oriented design approach that focuses on representation as a process related to the embodied grounding of human experience in time and space. Rather than copying the world, representation is one of the means that enables human culture and worldviews built by us and for us.

• METHODS USED:  The course blends lectures with hands-on art/design interventions used to communicate and share conceptual thinking. These interventions are to be carried out as: 

-Mind experiments shown as light sketches brought together to form a story. 

-Storytelling as walk-through-links with storylines narrated out loud by the presenter.

-These can be organized in the form of a Learning Diary narrative to be handed in for evaluation at the end of the course.

These interpretive interventions are shared, presented in structured group sessions using a studio critique approach, during the second hour of the meetings.

• OUTCOMES: Participants develop initial blueprint (saved in the Learning Diary) for an art or design exhibition. These blueprints can be presented to our partners in the project, depending on their quality and if the authors so desire. They can also be selected for online exhibition. With the courses’ tutors, participants can also write short essays and read literature related to the topics treated in the class.


1. Introduction to the notion of systems of representation in art and science. 

Date: 4 February (LD, UPD).

2. About ontology (LD, UPD). What is an ontology and why it is so important for new media.

Date: 11 February

3. Introduction to the ZKM archive (Special guest, Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás, curator ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany,

Date: 3 March. 

4. Case study 1: Time (LD). Cross-cultural view of time systems used in different cultures. 

Date: 10 March

5. Case study 2: Body (LD). What is embodiment, from a biological and cultural perspective.

Date: 17 March

6. Case study 3: Space (LD). About space and representation.

Date: 24 March

7. Preliminary concept descriptions and critique workshop

Date: 31 March (LD, LNR, UPD)

8. Final concept presentations

Date: 18 May

CASE STUDY 1: Time. 10 March

15:15-16:00 – lecture

16:15- 17:00–discussion/interventions 

Using mixed methods and content materials from anthropology, history and media archaeology, we will research and analyse how the representation of time is constructed differently in genres and narratives across different cultures and epochs. Participants create examples of ways of structuring time that could be used in work further developed, such as in an exhibition.

CASE STUDY 2: Body.17 March

15:15-16:00 – lecture

16:15- 17:00–discussion/interventions.

Using a dialogical approach, we will seek to gather diverse perspectives and bringing together archive materials with intangible testimonies, create a record so that out of this we create a system/representation. Key questions include, How is the body present in the exhibition itself? What is the relation of the body to the histories and stories being told? How do we bring the visitor’s body into the narrative system created in the previous case? How do you relate this to the visitor?

CASE STUDY 3: Space. 24 March. 

15:15-16:00 – lecture

16:15- 17:00–discussion/interventions.

Using mixed methods, we explore digital media’s use to augment and extend our sense of space and experience in exhibition spaces. A series of case studies from real world examples are presented. The final objective is a coherent dispersal of expression throughout the exhibition space.

Tutors: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen (LDK) Dept. of Media; Urszula Pawlicka-Deger, PhD, Dept. of Media, (UPD). Invited tutor, Livia Nolasco-Rozsas, PhD. ZKM.

Elaboration of the evaluation criteria and methods, and acquainting students with the evaluation (applies in this implementation): 

Evaluation is done according to active participation in the course (80% is required) as well as by work developed and produced.

Details on calculating the workload (applies in this implementation): 

Students can earn 3 credits minimum. There is an option for independent work if more credits are needed or desired.


Registration and further information