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Spin Room: Thesis then and now (September 11, 2020)01:09:30

Elena Manferdini discusses graduate thesis at SCI-Arc with Hernán Díaz Alonso and Damjan Jovanovic. Díaz Alonso discusses it as a launch pad for a lifetime project and a professional trajectory. He observes that, in a way similar to thesis, the multiple crises of the first half of 2020 have sparked everyone at SCI-Arc to engage critically with fundamental issues of community, architecture, and education.

In response to Manferdini’s question about the shift to presentations from in-person to Zoom, Jovanovic notes in this thesis a heightened attention to identity, a concern with circumventing platform defaults, and also a tendency for people to become performers of themselves.

At 19:00. Manferdini talks with Anna Neimark and Mira Henry about the effect of quarantine on the thesis process. Neimark observes that while working remotely has had some benefits – permitting students to work in the comfort and convenience of their own homes, having access to jurors and critics from all over the world – the real change has been brought about through the powerful political conversations going on, which have re-energized the students to deal with big issues.

Henry comments that there has been a freeing up of space so that things other than canonical conversations have value. The challenge now is to figure out how to build knowledge around personal experience.

Niemark argues that studio culture survived the shift to Zoom, and the process of working on a project haven’t really changed: “Architectural production had always already anticipated this remote moment.”

Henry acknowledges the platforms that facilitate collectivity, but wonders what will become of the physical sociality of architecture.

At 36:45 Manferdini talks with Kristy Balliet and John Cooper, who will be the co-coordinators of graduate thesis at SCI-Arc starting 2021.

Balliet observes that students are already working with the assumption that their virtual presentations can communicate outside the academic context, to many different audiences.

Cooper notes that students are already moving beyond the Phase 1 virtual presentations, engaging the sensorium, reclaiming plural bodies.

At 47:03 they are joined by Donald Bates, who describes thesis at the Melbourne School of Design. Bates, Cooper and Balliet discuss the role of thesis, research, the necessity for a generous length of time to delve deep into a topic, and whether or not thesis reveals a collective project at SCI-Arc – a meta-project?

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