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Table of contents

  1. Course overview
    1. Module aims
    2. Teaching methods
  2. Schedule
    1. Mon 11 Sep: Starting points
    2. Tue 12 Sep: Objects, rituals, behaviours
    3. Wed 13 Sep: Journeys
    4. Thu 14 Sep: Building final project
    5. Fri 15 Sep: Building final project (morning) + assessment (afternoon)
  3. Assessment
    1. Assessment criteria
      1. Experience
      2. Reflection on experience
      3. Participation in course
      4. Grading process
      5. Resits
    2. Inclusion
    3. Feedback
    4. Tutor
  4. Website + podcast
    1. Podcast
    2. Open access
    3. 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 movies and TV shows. What’s more, corporations, nations, political parties, theatrical productions, and futurists all engage in ‘world-building’. What can artists and designers learn from world-building to enhance, frame, and augment their own practice?

This Situated Design module encourages students to explore the possibilities of world-building in their own practice through a series of structured activities. The course is practice-led, using in-person individual and group activities to think about the way that elements of life and the experiences you have had can be woven together, merged with fantastical elements, and used to frame your existing practice. 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, presented and re-framed aspects of their own work, and produced a piece of work up to 10 minutes in length which frames a journey through their work.

This intensive course is methods-focused. We will make things throughout the course, and the assessment will focus on an experience that students design.

Module aims

This course aims to provide a series of practicable methods that can be used within and around your current practice, to create perceived value around what you already do.

Teaching methods

  • This course is taught in-person in room PR1.23.
  • Students must bring a means of taking notes, drawing, and recording audio, video, and photos. A smartphone, a notebook, and a couple of pens.
  • All group and individual exercises take place within teaching hours. However, preparation for the final assessment may require working outside of teaching hours.
  • Students will work both individually and in groups.


Mon 11 Sep: Starting points

Tue 12 Sep: Objects, rituals, behaviours

Wed 13 Sep: Journeys

Thu 14 Sep: Building final project

Fri 15 Sep: Building final project (morning) + assessment (afternoon)

Classes will be taught in 4 blocks during the day: two 60-minute blocks in the morning, and two 90-minute blocks in the afternoon:

  • Block 1 / 60 mins / 10.40-11.40
  • Block 2 / 60 mins / 12.00-13.00
  • Block 3 / 90 mins / 13.50-15.20
  • Block 4 / 90 mins / 15.40-17.10


The final assessment takes place from 13.00-16.30 on Friday 15 Sep. The assessor is your tutor, Dr. Ollie Palmer.

Each student has a total of 15 mintues to present their work, including all setup time, questions, and feedback. This will be include two presentations; the ‘experience’ and the ‘reflection’.

  • Experience: 3-5 minute presentation of an ‘experience’ which frames your work
  • Reflection: 2-4 minute explanation of the ‘experience’ (aims, methods, etc)
  • Active participation in exercises, group discussions during classes

At the end of the course students will be graded PASS or FAIL. Oral feedback will be given during the assessment; minor written feedback will be given within 2 weeks of the assessment date.

Assessment criteria

Each student will present a 3-5 minute ‘experience’ for the assessors (and peers) which frames their creative practice through a ‘journey’ (this could be a physical installation, a theatrical performance, a video, an audio work, etc).

Each student will also present a 2-4 minute description of their ‘journey’; what their intentions are, and how this frames their creative practice.

All students are expected to be present for each others’ presentations.


60% of total grade. To be presented in a format chosen by the student (e.g. video, performance, curated experience, audio installation, etc).

A well worked out experience comprises the following:

  • The student creates an innovative experience which frames their intended mode of practice in the future, taking into account the ways in which an audience might hear about, experience, and reflect on their work.
  • The experience reflects the students’ overall artistic and creative aims, folding the methods and positioning developed through this course into their work.
  • The student has selected appropriate methods and media for creating and presenting their work.

Reflection on experience

20% of final grade. This is given via oral presentation, before or after the examiners have seen the ‘experience’.

A well worked out reflection comprises the following:

  • The student is able to clearly articulate and explain the positioning they are presenting, the methods they have selected, and the rationale behind their choices.
  • The student shows an iterative working / thinking process that takes into account both their own intentions and the way in which these are framed for an audience.

Participation in course

20% of final grade.

A good participation grade comprises the following:

  • The student is an active participant in group conversations and exercises.
  • The student is supportive of peers, offering feedback that enables other students to grow.

Grading process

The student will be judged on each criteria, with points from 1 to 10. The combined value of these grades will determine the final grade; a 5.5 or above is a pass. The student will be given a PASS or FAIL in Osiris.

Elements Weights Maximum points to be obtained (score times 10)
1 6 60
2 2 20
3 2 20
Total 10 100

Overall, this adds up to:

Grade Quality Pass/fail
10 Outstanding Pass
9 Very good Pass
8 Good Pass
7 More than satisfactory Pass
6 Satisfactory Pass
5 Almost satisfactory Fail
4 Unsatisfactory Fail
3 Very unsatisfactory Fail
2 Poor Fail
1 Very poor Fail

In addition to the above grades, the following results can be registered in Osiris:
Not present (NP), if you registered for the test but did not take part in the test. The registration counts as a used test opportunity. Ungradable (UG), if your test could not be graded because you did not meet the requirements (for example formatting requirements or attendance requirement). This also counts as a used test opportunity. Exemption (EX), if the Examination Board has granted an exemption from a test.


Students have the right to one further attempt to pass an exam in the same academic year. Resits are scheduled to take 5 weeks after the first assessment. Tutors must write a specific assignment in the grade center Osiris to be carried out and ready for examination by the resit date. Students must be notified of the assignment (at the latest) 7 days after the examination taking place.


This course is designed to further your creativity and allow you to explore new ideas, techniques, and concepts. In order to do this, we have a collective responsibility as a class to make sure that everybody feels able to express themselves in a safe environment. It is critical that we are able to show respect for all world-views and perspectives expressed in class.

At The Master Institute of Visual Cultures we embrace an atmosphere of creativity which is enriched and enhanced by diversity along a number of dimensions, including race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, class, and religion. The school is especially committed to increasing the representation of those populations which have historically been excluded from participation in Dutch higher education.

If you have a name or pronoun which differs from the one we have on record, please me know.

If you feel that something said or done in class is troubling or has caused discomfort, please contact me confidentially. Like many people, I am still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities, and am always eager to hear from students how I can improve in this respect.

If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please speak to me, or contact the Renaat Casier, MIVC’s student counsellor. You can make an appointment by calling the Student Information Desk at +31 88 - 525 75 50. You can also find out more information about Avans student services at


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.


Dr. Ollie Palmer is an artist, designer and film-maker. His 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. He is head of Design Research at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures, St Joost School of Art and Design, and a tutor on the Situated Design MA, as well as a a researcher in the Situated Art and Design group in the Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology.

He has previously exhibited a large human computer at the V&A Museum, dancing ants at London Zoo and FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, and an over-knowledgable surveillance camera at the Royal Institute of British Architects. He formerly taught at Masters level at TU Delft, the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and the Bartlett School of Architecture - where he also completed an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded PhD by Design entitled ‘Scripted performances: designing performative architectures through digital and absurd machines’ (available online).

Commercially, he has worked as a design consultant with clients such as BBC Worldwide, University College London and the V&A Museum, as well as leading projects for a number of other UK-based companies. In between all of the above, he has travelled around the world solo, hitchhiked across Iceland, and taught IT in the depths of the Amazon.

For more information, see

Website + podcast


If you like this course, there is a supplemental podcast version with 25+ hours of guided activities, interviews, and lectures. It’s available on all podcast platforms - links to subscribe here.

Open access

The website and podcast for 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. If you do re-use the content, please let me know! It’s always nice to see material take on new forms. :)

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.