Thesis Inquiry

In the beginning of our last year in the program, we were asked to give a presentation of insights stemming from the work done up until that point. We wrote scripts and designed slides to accompany our talk.

This was a great exercise in thinking through what we wanted to say and how we wanted to explain it. When you're presenting information that you're intimately familiar with, like your thesis thinking, it's easy to forget to mention certain themes and ideas. You know it too well. Having to present it to an audience makes you consider the order in which to bring up certain topics, reminds you what context to include, and helps you find new insights.

It's interesting to look back now and see how much my thesis thinking has changed. I definitely had to make this stop on my way to where I am now. The thinking in the video below is very much about solving the issues of internet-related distraction, dissociation, disinformation, and dysmorphia for everyone, on a high level. Which isn't a bad thought, but not very realistic at this point.

As an exercise leading up to this presentation, we  were asked to gather all content that has been influential to our thinking. The goal was to present the collection to our class and get help recognizing themes and common threads throughout each of our collections. This was the beginning of our thesis thinking.

This was a tough exercise, and I learned a few things about myself through the process. One really important insight is that I had been using graduate school to try and reclaim some youth; and maybe try and escape from adulthood/parenthood a little bit. A lot of my work from the first year was rooted in things that I was very into as a undergraduate.  I am far from a traditional graduate student — I turned 40 during the program — and since I received my BA, I have gotten married, worked as a designer for 15+ years, and have had two children. I was discounting those experiences until now.

The presentation of this material was very casual during class; it was meant to be an accessory to a conversation. I tossed a bunch of screenshots into a huge PDF and just walked through it all with my class. I had a really hard time organizing it. At the end of the semester, our professor asked us to collect it in some kind of format.

Maybe it's the stage of life I'm in, maybe it's just me, maybe i'm just tired; but I felt that this scattered format was the best representation of how I categorize this information. I printed all the screenshots on randomly colored paper, printed little booklets, and hand stitched the signatures together. It's both chaotic and beautiful, funny and meaningful. It's honest, and feels like a good answer to the question: what's my perspective?

This process allowed me to call on the things that I have always loved (authentic people, music, unique spaces, nostalgia, humor) and then tie them to the deeper,  more conceptual themes that I am also interested in now (parenting,
authenticity, education, service, print, digital citizenship, focus.)