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Table of contents

  1. Course overview
  2. Course guidelines
    1. Teaching and participation
    2. Timetable
    3. Marking
      1. Narrative audio work
      2. Overview of process
      3. Overview of creative processes
    4. Assessment procedure
      1. Deadlines
    5. Tutor
    6. Feedback
  3. Website
    1. Open access
    2. Open source

Still from Synechdoche, New York, dir. Charlie Kaufman, 2008. © Copyright Sony Pictures Classics.

Course overview

World-building is a valuable tool in art and design. The ability to immerse an audience in a complete world is crucial to the framing of TV shows and movies; corporations, nations, political parties, theatrical productions, and futurists all engage in ‘world-building’. What can artists and designers learn from world-building to enhance and augment their own practice?

This 10-class elective module enables students to explore the worlds of world-building through a structured series of individual and group activities. The course is practice-led, consisting of structured design activities, and seminars (which always lead to a design outcome). The course encourages students to build on skills they already have, enhancing their current practice and projects by creating worlds to embed them in.

We will be using philosopher Maurizio Ferraris’ concept of social objects to create artefacts, and imagined social and individual memories. We will use theory and techniques from numerous places – theatre, counterfactuals, psychological operations, fiction, television and film production, propaganda, situationism – as well as testing new methods for world-building. By the end of the course, students will have designed maquettes and small sets, artefacts from imagined worlds, and produced a short film, audio production, performance, or related project. The course is methods-focused, but will also provide supplementary reading materials for students who wish to integrate these methods into their practice.

Please note that the scope of the course, the mode of teaching, and the expected outputs have changed since the beginning of the course in reaction to the global COVID-19 crisis. MIVC is based in the Netherlands, and our school’s building has been closed since mid-March 2020. The upside of this is that the mode of disseminating our work has become a podcast, which anyone in the world can listen to for free, and where we will disseminate our students’ work at the end of the course.

The course will be performed in public: the syllabus and assignments will be made open access at, as well as in the course podcast – which is where students from MIVC will share their work at the end of the course.

Course guidelines

Teaching and participation

A new podcast episode, with 15-20 minutes’ writing and world-building exercises, is released every weekday during term-time. A longer podcast is released once a week, with issues that will be discussed in class.

Please note there are changes due to the coronavirus crisis

The total time allocated for a 3EC course is 84 hours. This means that in addition to attending classes, you are also expected to carry out around 4-5 hours’ work on your assignments outside of class time.

MIVC students meet on Fridays from 14.00-17.00in the Situation Room on the first floor of the Masters Institute. You are expected to attend all classes. If you cannot make it to class please email []( in advance.

The class is taught primarily via podcast, which enables you to work in your own time. We also meet online once a week on Fridays between 14.00-17.00 CET (check with your time zone here). These classes are a place to discuss the work you’ve done this week, set collective agendas and goals, and have tutorials. In normal circumstances, failure to attend 2 classes or the assessment at the end of the course is grounds for failing the course (with the exception of emergencies). However, since shifting to online tuition for this course, I realise that not everyone has equal access to technology, bandwidth, and may have other commitments. Consequently, no penalty will be imposed if you can’t attend classes. Please do let me know if you need extra tuition or help – just email

There will be activities, conversations, presentations, feedback, and group work in class. Please try to engage with these activities as fully as possible. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with any of these activities please let your tutor know.


New timetable

0114 FebIntroduction
0221 FebPersonal objects
--28 Febno class
--06 Marclass cancelled (illness)
0313 MarNarratives, social objects
0420 MarRecalibration (in response to shutdown)
0527 MarCounterfactuals
0603 AprPsyops, deception
--10 Aprno class
0717 AprNarrative structures (with Sarah Lugthart)
0824 AprSound design and framing narratives
--01 Mayno class
0908 MayYour worlds (integrating w studio practice)
1015 MayTutorials
--22 Mayno class
--29 MayAssessment
--Early JuneStudent projects published on podcast


You will be graded on three elements:

Narrative audio work

Narrative audio work: 60% of final grade

  • Make a narrative audio work of 5-12 minutes’ length which includes elements of:
    • your real, daily life and/or artistic practice
    • a parallel, fictional world of your choosing
  • The role of this exercise is to enact the learnings of this course – the process of world-building and narrative writing – in one concise audio work.
  • The audio work can be real and/or fictionalised. It can use autobiography, fiction, found sounds, your own foley – whatever helps you to take the listener on a journey between two worlds.
  • It should carefully consider the emotional journey you wish for a listener to go through, using principles of ‘framing’ we have discussed in class.

Overview of process

Overview of process to reach narrative audio work: 20% of final grade

  • This work should help an audience ‘frame’ your work more.
  • Present a 2-4 minute overview of the narrative audio work, in audio/visual format. This can be a presentation, a pre-recorded video or audio file, a PDF, or another format of your choosing.
  • The role of this activity is to enable you to describe your process, and the work that you have put into your narrative audio work. It lets you add value to the work you have submitted through explanation of the elements which might otherwise be hidden
  • You can play elements of your narrative audio work and describe what they are and how they are made, or your thought process
  • This overview could be presented in several different ways, depending on your own preference, for example:
    • An introduction to the work, like curators’ introductions to a gallery show
    • A ‘behind the scenes’ expose of your working process
    • A series of working notes
    • Footnotes to subjects or themes in your work
    • Et cetera
  • Use this presentation to add value to the narrative audio work, highlighting elements that you want listeners to hear.

Overview of creative processes

Overview of creative processes from the course: 20% of final grade

  • Choose a small selection of the exercises you have completed in class, or through the class podcast. Present the exercises, and what you personally learnt from them, as if you are presenting to an audience who have never heard of them before.
  • The presentation should be 2-4 minutes long, and can use any audiovisual media you see fit, e.g. a presentation, a pre-recorded video or audio file, a PDF, or another format of your choosing.
  • This assessment allows you to demonstrate your understanding of activities within the course, and provides a place to reflect on your own personal practice.

Assessment procedure

The course assessment is on Friday 29 May, with award-winning writer, film-maker and audio producer Ross Sutherland as external examiner, and Ollie Palmer as internal examiner.

You will be sent a Zoom link via email. Please download Zoom in advance and familiarise yourself with how to present a slideshow.

Because video calls can be exhausting, the day will be split into four 40-60 minute presentation sessions. You are only expected to be present for the session you’re in, but you’re welcome to join us for the other sessions. Students are also encouraged to ask their colleagues questions about their work and methods.

You have up to 10 minutes to present your work (see above), and up to 10 minutes for questions and answers. The examiners will have listened to your work in advance, but might play an excerpt of your work to discuss. You can also play extracts if it helps your presentation.


  • You must upload your narrative audio file here by Tuesday 26 May 23:00 CEST.
  • The file must be in .mp3, .mp4, or .wav format.
  • The file should be named yourname_audio-title.extension (so a story called ‘now and then’ made by Ollie Palmer would be olliepalmer_now-and-then.mp3)

  • You must upload your presentations here by Thursday 28 May 23:00 CEST.
  • You can upload in PDF format, or PowerPoint/Keynote.

Upload audio work here / Upload presentations here


This course is taught by Ollie Palmer - an artist, designer and film-maker whose work critically questions control systems and contemporary use of technology, and takes place across installations, films and performances. Projects often include collaborations with scientists, dancers, and other people outside of his own discipline. From 2015-16 he was Pavillon artist-in-residence at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and his work has been shown internationally (V&A Museum, Seoul Museum of Art, Opera Garnier de Paris). He holds a PhD by Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture entitled ‘Scripted performances: designing performative architectures through digital and absurd machines’ (download pdf), and is alumni of the Bartlett’s Interactive Architecture Lab. He has taught at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, the Bartlett, TU Delft Architecture, and St Joost School of Art and Design, where he is Core Tutor on the Situated Design masters course. Alongside other projects, he is currently working on a FilmFonds NL-funded immersive reality project entitled All the Worlds.

Contact details

Ollie Palmer and performance/production team at Nybble installation, V&A Museum, 2013.


This course is designed for you! If there is anything that is unclear, anything that could be better organised, or you have any ideas you think might make the course or your experience better, please just tell me.


Open access

The contents of this course are open access. Please feel free to take and adapt any of the learning materials, try the exercises, start teaching your own course, etc.

Whilst the site and course are open access, there are copyrighted materials on the site. This includes students’ work, and images from relevant films, etc. Copyrighted material is clearly marked as such: please respect the original copyright holder. If you like the look of something on the site (e.g. a film, podcast, book, etc), please support its creator! :)

Open source

The website this course runs on is open source; you can find the whole code-base on Github. The website is built with Jekyll, and uses a slightly modified version of Just the Docs. The site uses ‘Monofur for Powerline’ by Tobias B Koehler for its titles - font licence and description can be found over here. Please use, adapt, and modify the site as you see fit. More information about how it’s all put together, and how you can copy it to your own site, on GitHub.

Copyright © 2020 Ollie Palmer. Site content distributed under an MIT license (you are free to reuse content as you like); student work remains their property.