Join us for an afternoon of sociopathic sensing, Acrobat for autocrats, currencies of attention, auto-autofiction,​gastronomic sensoria, EPA APIs, VR backdoors, metaversal properties, dream broadcasters, over-shareware, necro-pneumatics, NFT boardgames, prescription placebos, leisure labor, mindful co-bots, social organs…

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

Guest Respondents: Stuart Candy, Ph.D. Fellow at the Berggruen Institute and University of Southern California and Radha Mistry, Foresight Practice Lead, Autodesk

Mavis Yue Cao

Prescription Placebo

This work takes the placebo effect as a critical lens to explore the social and cultural processes that create therapeutic hope from three perspectives: Medical institutions as agents in distributing hope; Self-empowerment from larger belief systems; How therapeutic hope can be pursued by individuals themselves and how it can be transformed into new kinds of healing practices by caregivers who may or may not be formally trained as medical professionals.

Ray Rui Cao


Sally is a robot that makes alerts to benefit people, and a system that helps people to recalibrate from working pressure. Sally is a rambling companion and a co-writing poet. It reminds people to walk away from working pressure and to explore one’s local surroundings, encouraging them to take initiative and to identify the significant moments from the mundane beauty.

Isabelle Chaligne


ECOEXISTING is a proposal for the integration and responsiveness to local urban environmental probes in our social interfaces. This is presented via a plug-in for photo and video sharing apps where data such as the migration of resilient fauna and flora or the effectiveness of energy supply via wind affect the visibility of social content which is no longer the unique foreground. This results in entangled, at times passive, or deliberately interdependent relationships between the user and their layered digital ecosystem.

Jeremy Yijie Chen

The Window

My thesis critiques the boosterish promotion of virtual reality and speculates on its approaching visual hegemony in the near future. Using the concept and abstract significance of the window as a central critical image, my position focuses on the implicit impacts of this mediated reality on human perception, especially on the sense of being physical/tangible. The word “window” has been signified as the interface to the digital world for a long time. The project plays with the “window” as a medium, hoping to pull the metaphor back from the digital to the physical, vision back to the bod, and the technical mania to the anthropocentric emotion.

Anthony Rey Espino

Performance Anxiety: Test Driving The Berserker

Performance Anxiety is a user testing video game played through an emotion sensing driving interface designed to complicate the auto industry’s use of emotion metrics within future driving vehicles.

Iris Yuanyuan Gong


Foo( ) is a speculated fast food experience design. It proposes a whole new approach to food, which is a new function to make, consume and even define food based on sensory experience. This project questions how food and experience around food would be shaped when senses can be separately edited, programmed, and re-collaged together through technologies.

Jensen Gu

Digital Instability

My thesis project, Digital Instability, is design exploration of digital assets in the future metaverse. I investigate the unstable nature of digital assets by demonstrating how their visual styles are changeable. The project shows the digital instability forms using six programs built in Unity. These digital assets can be completely different from physical shape to shining fragments, from workable materials to unrecognizable broken pieces, from high dimensional shaders to low-poly cubes. There is no way to guarantee their stability. I believe instability is the most fascinating feature of digital assets in the future.


Monumental Death

Monumental Death is an interactive installation consisting of an inflatable anti-monument and movement score. The project seeks to dismantle tropes of heroism as represented by monuments and popular media. As a designed interaction, this work asks audiences to confront the bodily performance in nationalist propaganda.

Melody Ling

Fluid Identities

Fluid Identities is a design intervention that manifests in the form of a DIY service Fluid Mask and a public initiative. Together, this work invites people to engage with the mask as a mass-produced symbol and a site for individualized customization and expression. These two parts are brought together to interrogate the centralization and interconnectedness of surveillance capitalism and contemporary identity overload, all the while recognizing “being fluid” as a presumed agentic human condition and a widely-acceptable social factor.

Fuyao Liu

Attention Marketplace

Attention Marketplace is a series of virtual consuming experiences that manifests personal engagement , well known to be a high-value commodity online – as a literal form of currency in the near-future, AR-enhanced, physical marketplace. In this world, shoppers and sellers gain economic benefits by attention-paying at items for sale, and merchandise increases value through attention-receiving. By placing online economics in an IRL context, this parody intends to portray a plausible future, where attention is a literal economic driver of all culture, supported by ubiquitous surveillance, the never-ending push of information, and the worship and glorification of consumerism.

Berna Onat

dating coach evan marc katz

Systems of social control are similar to algorithms: society follows a list of coded instructions through policy and promoted norms, all at the service of a desired social order. Ad*be Autocrat is a design fiction, imagining this analogy as a literal desktop application. Like SimCity and other simulation games, It generates a projected output in the form of a simulation – in this case a crowd of people, representing the overall degree of order among the population. Adjusting parameters of control even at the micro levels alters the overall system, resulting in changes to the simulated microcosm of the state.

Elaine Purnama

Un/Belong is an interactive application for authoring autofiction stories in which users can combine personal experiences with pre-written narratives. The stories are based upon experiences of unbelonging — an emotionally charged state of disconnect with one’s social relationships and identity, often manifested as feeling left out or feeling “different” from others. The stories focus on experiences shared by Asian women in their 20s and 30s as a way to bring often underrepresented voices into the foreground. The project expands the range of voices and experiences that are represented by creating a space for story writing, personal reflection, and kinship through commonality and relatability. The project exemplifies an approach to technology design that is situated in embodied experience.

Qi Tan

BODYIN speculates future body monetization and the alternative form of physical labor. The proposed peripherals harvest body movements, datafy collected information into human signals, and contribute them to external databases and intelligent systems.  This project considers a capitalist valuation of the human body and examines the reciprocal relationships between data-driven labor, daily technology, personal privacy, and body ownership. Simultaneously, BODYIN reflects on nowadays invisible but existing labor absorbed by ever-changing technologies.

Christie Wu

local meetup near me

We’re All Gonna Make It (WAGMI) To The Moon is a collection of board games that navigate directly in the confusing but fascinating world of NFT art. Owing to the explosion of the NFT, user-generated art – which can sometimes be substantive, but is often artless and even kitsch. WAGMI to the Moon likes to invite you to traverse the space of NFT art, examine the subject critically while learning about the excitement and fun of engaging with NFT.

Shiny Shuan-Yi Wu

SORGAN® is a speculative wearable that tracks social interactions 20 yrs into the pandemic, a design fiction based on a government wellbeing promotion for a “paradise state” of social balance. The project combines the structure of balance theory with the growing presence of virtual worlds, to question how the metaphorical balance of social weight is defined, measured, and visualized. The project asks the audience to reflect on what a standard for social wellbeing might be as people start to design their own ways to maintain balance.​

Jou Jiahui Yu


Dream is Mysterious. My thesis, Redream, is a new data-driven avatar creator system based on users’ dreams. ReDream generates unique avatars mined from user-recorded content. Users can re-experience these dreams by donning their custom Dream Avatars. ReDream challenges the traditional interpretation of dreams–no longer limited to fixed social cognition, the meaning is more subjective, and more personal.

Guest Respondents

Radha Mistry


Radha has a background in architecture, narrative environments, and strategic foresight. She currently leads the foresight practice at Autodesk, teaches as part-time faculty on the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program at The New School (Parsons), and spends most of her time exploring the impact of emerging technologies and how they’ll change the way we design and make things in the future. Prior to Autodesk, Radha focused on the Future of Work with the Steelcase Applied Research group. Her work sought out ways organizations could drive Innovation through design. Previous to Steelcase, Radha was part of the Arup Foresight + Innovation team in London and San Francisco, crafting speculative futures for global clients; she has also exhibited during the Lisbon Architecture Triennale and worked on design-led community engagement initiatives in cities across Europe.

Stuart Candy


Stuart Candy, Ph.D. (@futuryst) is a 2021-22 Fellow at the Berggruen Institute and University of Southern California, a think tank that engages great thinkers to develop and promote long-term answers to the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. Stuart helps people think about possible worlds by bringing them to life. Cocreator of the acclaimed imagination game The Thing From The Future, and coeditor of the collection Design and Futures, his experiential practice, scholarship, and frameworks have influenced practitioners around the world, appearing in museums, festivals, and city streets, on the Discovery Channel, and in the pages of Wired, The Economist and VICE.

Stuart collaborates to build a critical and creative capacity for foresight, imagination, and long-term responsibility, with recent partners including United Nations agencies, the BBC, World Economic Forum, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, NASA JPL, United States Conference of Mayors, and Alaska’s Cook Inlet Tribal Council. He is Director of Situation Lab and Associate Professor of Design at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh), and was the first Fellow of the Long Now Foundation (San Francisco), and also of the Museum of Tomorrow (Rio de Janeiro).

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
Benjamin Borden
Tega Brain
Sean Donahue
Claire Evans
Maggie Hendrie
Umi Hsu
Norman Klein
Jesse Kriss
Lucy McRae
Mike Milley
Mimi Zeiger

Writing Team
Elizabeth Chin
Sam Creely

Graphic Design
Jennifer Rider Studio