Graduate Media Design Practices @ArtCenter presents THESIS LIVE 2021 – Friday, April 16 @3PM PT

Join us for an afternoon of cli-fi almanacs, femme futures, zoomed houses, negentropic communities, horticultural social media, radical ride-share, data portraits, neo-metabolisms, industrial craft, socialization games, eco-tech foodies, complicit ecologies, filtered feelings…

Hosted by MDP Thesis Lead Faculty: Anne Burdick, Elise Co, and Tim Durfee

Guest Respondents: Stuart Candy, Futurist, CMU and Emily Smith, Curator & Designer, UE Berlin

Martin Bernard


The OverCasting Almanac is an interactive and collaborative digital publication invested in the social construction of climate related data visualization. There are currently three issues published on They are the central prototypes in a broader investigation into the dynamic coding notebook as a tool for collaborative knowledge production.

Maya Friedman

Toxic Love x Femme Futures

Toxic Love x Femme Futures consists of two pieces: a speculative line of protective gear made for cosmetologists who are at risk for gynecological harm due to workplace hazards and a podcast that features conversation with four women impacted by the garments. This project proposes a new approach to women’s health design, one that considers the social and environmental contexts in which biomedical health emerges.

Stella Sizhe Huang

Drop Houses

Drop Houses explore the physical implications of our digital lives. The configurations of these hybrid environments pursue new forms true to the online reality of our everyday, rather than nostalgia for the pre-digital. The positive aspects of the streaming life – creative affirmation and self-building – are embraced as new signifiers of the domestic.

Aishwarya Janwadkar

Negentropic Landscapes

Negentropic Landscapes is an approach to building communities that support an “inside-out” hospice care model. It is designed in opposition to the current end-of-life architecture where aging and death are often treated as discrete from the rest of life. “Architecture,” in this project refers to structures of thinking, protocols, and logics – an idea space, designed to prompt a conversation not just about hospice but about how the design of communities can help acclimate us to the reality of death.

Keda Jiang

Cloud Seeds

Cloud Seeds is a social platform that uses plant optical biometrics as access to create stronger communities by rewarding care and responsibility. The platform enables both online and real-world spontaneous engagements of community members, creating connections by centering the active participation and liveness of their plant companions.

Keisuke Kuniyoshi

Rally Cruizin’

Rally Cruizin’, is a project exploring Uber’s exploitation of drivers, it weaves fair wages, benefits, and collective power into a story of resistance through collaboration, facilitation, and communication. The project analyzes and re-imagines the role of digital platforms, by offering a co-opted platform that uses Uber’s existing surge model to challenge their own exploitation practices. The aim is to provide platform drivers with ownership of their wages towards collective power.

Soo Jin Lee

Portrait 2.0

My project spotlights identity within data sharing and privacy and interprets it into new portraits, reflecting our online behavior and history. The portraits become a window to the true representation that we have missed or couldn’t see by just looking at ourselves through a mirror.

Yuwen Lin


Neo-metabolism speculates a future extensible, on-demand living where the architecture and city could be shaped to have ever-changing forms by the lifestyle that heavily relying on digital apps that affected by the ‘sharing economy’. This project redefines the modern composition of home and the way a city operates.

An Pan


Hybridity are not simple mergers of two things, but instead generate a so-called ‘third space’ that allows connection, negotiation and creation of their own authenticity. 3rdSpace is a collection of hybrid daily objects that explores different types of hybridity in form, function, behavior, space and culture.

Evan Stalker

Playing the Kitchen Queerly

I built a gamified audio chat room in the form of a kitchen. It emerged out of and reflected on more traditional research into queer histories of using domestic space, where reconceptualizing the intimacies and rhythms of kinship has been a central concern. The project uses game design to provide a paradigm for a critical, relational and reflective use of space, asking users to enjoy playing through failure as a way to connect. As a virtual space, it allows us to play with putting the past and the present into disjointed, dynamic, sensory relationships that speak to queer conditions.

Jingyi Wang

X-i: the Future Dumpling Experience

X-i is an immersive food interpretive center located in rural China where visitors can engage with the local argriculture and ecology by making dumplings as individuals and as part of the community. By guiding the participants in food harvesting, making and sharing, X-i strives to provide an opportunity for the visitors to embrace the local and seasonal constraint in food processing and bring new creativity through collective recipe and smart assistive technologies.

Rachel Rose Waterhouse

Compossible Assemblages

Compossible Assemblages examines how utilitarian infrastructures have transformed the relationship between humans and the natural environment. These provocations reconsider capitalist prioritizations of nature’s desirable aesthetics and functional benefits, and put forward tangible, alternative approaches to designing these infrastructure networks.

Yiran Zhang


Opera Visage is a negative emotion expression system that amplified facial expressions of negative emotions. It is meant to challenge the social value system that now inhibits people who belong to Eastern or collectivist cultures from expressing negative emotions, following and supporting the in-vogue “self-care movement”. By proposing new ways of expressing “negative” emotions, Visage Opera challenges the status quo and asks questions about the nature of indirect vs. direct communication.

Guest Respondents

Stuart Candy

Stuart Candy is an Associate Professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He works with learners, leaders and creatives around the world to amplify their ability to shape preferred futures through media and design projects and frameworks. He is co-editor with Cher Potter (Victoria & Albert Museum) of Design and Futures and the co-creator with Jeff Watson of acclaimed imagination game The Thing From The Future.

Emily Smith

Emily Smith is an educator, designer, and exhibition-maker based in Berlin. In 2018, Emily served as the co-artistic director of the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial 01: Ministry of Graphic Design in Sharjah, UAE. She is currently professor and program head of MA Media Spaces at the UE University of Europe Applied Sciences in Berlin. She holds an MA in Visual and Media Anthropology from the Freie Universität Berlin, a BFA in Graphic Design and Time-Based Media from Art Center College of Design, and a BA in Latin American Studies from Pitzer College.

Thesis is a two-term culminating project for every graduating student in MDP at ArtCenter: an MFA in emerging technologies, critical frameworks, and experimental studio practices. This personal project is where students take interdisciplinary methods and actively define new design opportunities / territories through research and engagement with diverse social, cultural and technological contexts. Students synthesize their work through a series of classes, committee advisement meetings (one-on-one and group), lectures, presentations and reviews.

Lead Thesis Advisors
Anne Burdick
Elise Co
Tim Durfee

Adjunct Advisors
Casey Anderson
Benjamin Borden
John Brumley
Sean Donahue
Claire Evans
Maggie Hendrie
Ben Hooker
Umi Hsu
Norman Klein
Jesse Kriss
Mike Milley
Richard Wheeler
Mimi Zeiger

Writing Team
Elizabeth Chin
Sam Creely

Graphic Design
Jennifer Rider