design school

[co-teaching by Dorothee Richter]

The design of ceremonies is by no means an outmoded concern. We recently saw the grand celebrations of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, parades on the Kremlin have been restored to their former glory and the state funeral of Ronald Reagan was unprecedented. We see a revival of shows by the aging pope and by the ditto Rolling Stones for stadium-sized masses. Royal weddings, full of pomp and circumstance, make prime time television. It is time we take a closer look at the phenomenon of the ceremony.

Many actions may take on a ceremonial character, such asgetting married, greeting the sun, celebrating a victory, beginning a new semester, tasting wine, rolling a joint, or cleaning a desk before starting a new project.

Ceremonies often mark transitions and can be personal or societal, or in the case of celebrities both simultaneously. A ceremony may address a human need such as those for membership in a group, connection with nature, having a "higher purpose", having activities to stay occupied,the expression of great happiness or sadness. They may also address anxieties such as those connected to the threat of war, the arrival of summer, becoming adult, or solitude, for instance.

Ceremonies often translate these intangible needs or states of or conditions into visible action, defining special gestures, such as singing, sitting, kneeling, marching, or defining specific protocol. Take the way a flag should be placed on a casket for instance or how a tablecloth should be folded. The setting of such actions also has an importance. Ceremonies may change whether they occur in a church, on a street corner, in a tearoom, parking place, or public bathroom. Often the actions are supported by the appropriate graphic design (flags, banners, hand-written bibles, logo's, manuals, LED-screen applications, carefully arranged and displayed objects, graffiti). Together, these factors can become a surprisingly effective design tool.

Most ceremonies can be described by a set of rules and symbols. Part of the task in this project will be to unravel these elements of existing ceremonial activities. What is celebrated, what is symbolized? Which symbols are chosen? Where do they originate? Which roles and intentions have initiators and participators? Which role is here for functionality?

Furthermore, the ordering and medial aspects of ceremonies will be practiced. Like any other medium, ceremonies can be designed, redesigned, enlarged, intermixed. New ceremonies, such as for divorce or midlife crisis, and new formulas, such as flash mobs, may be introduced.

Communication design will play a crucial role. Messages are to be formulated and visualized, utilities to be designed, documentation and guidebooks to be made. Different techniques in graphic design, such as the developing of a corporate (or 'ceremonial') identity will be practiced. Students are encouraged to interview experts as part of their research.


--> Week 1 - 3

Finding a theme within the main theme:

Start to focus on at least 3 different existing ceremonies / ceremonial activities.
Which daily, yearly or one time ever routines should be accentuated (in a different way)?

"Answer" following questions by finding and categorizing as much material as possible for each of your 3 topics:

-- Birth
-- First school-day
-- Coming out
-- Wedding
-- Divorce
-- Rededication
-- Harvest
-- Funeral
-- Victory

-- Memorial
-- Honoring
-- Celebrating
-- Debate

-- Solo
-- The whole street
-- The whole family
-- All who feel involved

-- Living room
-- Television studio
-- Space station
-- Bed room
-- Tea room
-- Street corner
-- Forest

-- Repeating movie fragments
-- Standing still
-- Walking in circles
-- Folding a flag
-- Reading a text
-- Asking and answering certain questions

-- Every year
-- After the mammoth is killed
-- Before/after (first) lovemaking

What is the exact meaning of used symbols, gestures, colors, and so on?

In the second week, at least 1 theme is chosen to be specified.
In the second and third week, students make reports on read texts.

(Week 4 Pathwayweek)

--> Week 5
(DR, JB; Thursday 04-11-04, 10.00)

First presentation:

Research -
a printed A5-booklet, containing a selection of at least 50 different entries of documentation like: pictures, quotes, facts, sketches, schemes, copied or written texts. all entries should have a name (existing or invented) and be completed with exact sources and attached keywords. the material should include at least 1 interview.

--> Week 6 - 9

Use the research-material to transform, adjust, extend, redesign, deepen, etc.

-- Which topics are related to your theme?
-- Which futuristic event should be called upon?
-- Which ceremonies could be combined, which contents could be exchanged?

Exercise in visual communication will be obtained by

-- The choosing and creating of new symbols, color-ranges, logo's.
-- Changing rhythm, scale, budget, composition.
-- Changing the interaction with public/participants.
-- The creation of a "house style manual" for the event.

(Week 10 Wahlwoche)

--> Week 11
(DR, JB, 16-12-04, 10.00)

Second presentation:

Project Dummy -
the presentation of a drafted outline of the project-outcomes: what you show should give a detailed impression of the end result.

--> Week 12 - 14

Compose, order,
re-compose, re-order,
processing of image-material,
printing, programming,
(changing everything,)

--> Week 15
(DR, JB, 27-01-05, 10.00)

Third presentation (public) -
Final work;
Manuals for (re)new(ed) ceremonies / ceremonial activities;
designed ceremonial items and visualizations of the event itself.


Terry Eagleton: Einführung in die Literaturtheorie, Kapitel: Die Psychoanalyse, Stuttgart, wEimar, 1997, S.138 ff.

Jacqueline Rose: Sexualität im Feld der Anschauung, Kapitel: Repräsentation und Weiblichkeit, Wien 1996, vor allem ab S. 69 ff.

Guy Debord: Gesellschaft als Inszenierung, in : Texte zur Medientheorie, Hg. Helmes, Köster; Stuttgart, 2002, S.238 ff.

Claude Lévi-Strauss: Die Struktur der Mythen. in. Texte zur modernen Mythentheorie, Hg. Barner, Detken, Wesche, Stuttgart 2003, S.58 ff.

Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari: Anti-Ödipus, Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie, in : Texte zur modernen Mythentheorie, Hg. Barner, Detken, Wesche, Stuttgart 2003, S.178 ff.

Robert Pfaller: Die Illusionen der anderen, über das Lustprinzip in der Kultur, Frankfurt am Main, 2002; Kapitel 9, Augenschein, Der unsichtbare Dritte. S.261 -269 (über die Höflichkeit) und ab 2.3.Warum man beim Zaubern laut sprechen muß, Freuds "philosophische Erklärung der Magie, Freuds "kunsttheoretische Erklärung der Magie, S.284-298