Seminar: Cartes Blanches (2021–23)

The goal was to develop self-initiated projects that lie within the scope of experimental media design. This specifically included, but was not limited to, installation works, audiovisual pieces, creative coding projects, and data visualizations. As cartes blanches these projects provided the students with an opportunity to delve deeper into topics from existing studies or open up entirely new subject areas.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Between Images (2020)

Recent advances in artificial intelligence research have unleashed a torrent of almost psychedelic imagery in both computer science and the arts. The course introduced into the basics of deep learning using convolutional neural networks and enabled the students to probe the creative potentials of this technology through hands-on experimentations. The aim was to discuss and reflect the potentials and consequences of deep learning for design and art in particular, as well as for our societies and economies in general.

What are the characteristics of this emerging »neural aesthetic« and what would be meaningful roles for it within our digital visual cultures?

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Augmented Realities (2019)

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the insertion of visual objects into the observation of the physical world. Although this method is a much younger sister discipline of virtual reality, it has become more widespread since Pokémon Go, Snapchat and Instagram.

Recently, a number of AR authoring environments have appeared that significantly facilitate the creation of corresponding scenes, experiences and applications. In the eyes of Apple, Adobe and Facebook, the importance of AR is set to increase significantly in the coming years and become a new mass medium whose aesthetic and cultural potential we explored in the seminar.

What services and products, what new aesthetics and visual cultures could this bring up? To what extent could the AR change visual communication – or even our society as a whole – as it has been the case before with computers, the Internet and smartphones? We borrowed from design fiction to represent our visionary and critical thoughts regarding augmented reality.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Raum / Gestalt (2019)

The Augmented Realities seminar began with the brief to design two Instagram filters with Facebook's Spark AR authoring package. Filter 1 had to be realized primarily graphically and typographically and should only suggest the physical environment or the people depicted. For this filter only white on black background in portrait format could be used. Filter 2, on the other hand, was supposed to represent the environment or the people depicted in a visually interesting way through photographic repetitions, transformations and optical illusions. The video shows process and final work by Ina Bandixen, Raphael Benz, Kenan Brunner, Florence Dreier, Aline Hermann and Tim Levi Keller.

A selection of the created AR filters will soon be published on the Instagram account of the Visual Communication Institute at HGK FHNW.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Constructed Realities (2018)

Experimental media can provoke thoughts about how we perceive the world, especially when they break with our aesthetic socialization. When conceived in the right way, media can put the constructive processes of our senses and cognition to the foreground, since they take our world-making as their source material. The seminar led to explorations that delude our perception and can therefore create new realities – in miniature and for the moment.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Raumarchiv Dreispitz (2017)

The seminar addressed contemporary documentation techniques such as photogrammetry and 360 degree cinematography to create a “Raumarchiv”, an archive of urban spaces with their atmospheres and cultures. For doing so the transformation of the Basel Dreispitz area, which is part of the charitable and influential Christoph Merian foundation, was our primary object of investigation. Where does the mixture of participative, publice space and controlled private grounds become visible? Where can we perceive its future visions and where do these already supersede the existing structures? How can the spatial atmospheres of the past, the present and the future be captured, reproduced and imagined?

The seminar results have been exhibited publicly as part of the Celebrating The Campus Of The Arts event in June 2017.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Nature/Data (2016)

The fascination for the beautiful, sublime and primordial of nature is as old as any theory about human perception itself. An early understanding of the arts was to capture the aesthetics of nature in a worthy medial translation through images and sculptures. The seminar picks up this classic perspective and updates it through the development of innovative, media-based forms of translation. How can the aesthetic aspects of the natural such as form, colour, motion and texture be captured, abstracted, translated and stored by new forms of media?

In a series of workshops we examined areas around Basel with computational photography, 3D photogrammetry, data sampling through video tracking and sound analysis. Which aspects make up the appeal of the natural? Which emotions do we associate with it? And how can the natural be told apart from the artificial in the first place?

We understand the captured data as isolations and conservations for elemental aspects of "natural phenomena", which allow for a critical reflection about these aesthetic questions. The seminar ended with a public exhibition on the Dreispitz Campus in Basel.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Data Exploration Spaces (2015)

Data coins our contemporary culture by sensing, storing, archiving, transferring and computing our lives, behaviours and communication. But data is also known for being volatile, hidden and overwhelmingly confusing. In this seminar we continued our investigations into the narrative potentials of design and data and strived to create data exploration spaces. Media scenographies that merge physical and virtual space by giving data materiality and space.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller


SYNTHESIS is the name of a series of workshops at the Visual Communication Institute of the Academy of Art and Design in Basel and that led to a public concert for the opening of the new campus in September 2014.

The basic premise was to use generative systems to create visual instruments that mimic the expressivity of electronic music synthesizers. Parameters of visual synthesis engines were made controllable through haptic interfaces in order to design and spontaneously improvise images intuitively and in real-time.

Swarm Synthesizer by Lazar Jeremic and Cyrill Studer.

More information at

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Data Poetics (2014)

Our information societies are based on the mass production, transportation and consumption of large amounts of data. Terms such as Big Data do not only apply for scientific research anymore, but have been transferred to humanities and are used to describe the mechanisms of our networked culture.

Culture in general is well known to be influenced by technological conditions, but still it is often hard to recognize and describe these changes precisely. Narratives, as a foundational cultural technique, are a way to communicate these hard to grasp moments by opening up a space for aesthetic contemplation and ambivalent strands of discussion.

Which poetic dimensions can be found in data? Which traces are we producing with our recording devices every day? How can data tell stories? The aim of this seminar is to design poetic data aesthetics in order to provide some insights in the mechanisms of our information society.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: My Data is Your Data, and Your Data is Mine (2013)

Today's world is generating, storing and processing more information than ever before. We carry the computing capacities of former room-sized supercomputers in our pockets, and these mobile computers are connected to all the other pockets. Young teenagers already live in a world, where they cannot remember a time without permanent online communication and social networks, and seem to be used to presenting their private lives to a global public much more than their parents.

What are new and maybe more meaningful ways for design to integrate these possibilities into our lives? How can these growing databases be made tangible? And how might this change our existing societal paradigms?

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Picture Making Machines (2012)

Since the introduction of graphical capabilities to computing machines designers and artists explored the possibilities of algorithmically created images: picture-making machines. But who is the creator of these generative designs? Is it the designer or the machine? Can the creative process of inspiration be re-modelled in a computer?

Students in the MA program have been designing and prototyping picture generating machines that encode surprising and complex behaviours from simple rules, sensor feedback and mechanical constraints.

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Light and Dark - The Manor Facade Project (2011)

On invitation of the warehouse Manor students and alumni of the HGK FHNW developed ten individual projects as a contribution for their temporary media installation from December 1st - 24th 2011 in Basel.

The students of the Institute of Visual Communication have been working over a project duration of six weeks on the creation of interactive and reactive pieces. Special emphasis has been put on the investigation of the cultural role of architectural light stagings.

Check out the Project website

Lecturer: Ludwig Zeller

Seminar: Boundless Visions (2011)

"Augmented Reality" (AR) refers to contemporary techniques that add or superimpose media content into one's perception. Much effort is currently being put into the defelopvment of the necessary components in tracking, spatial sensing and computer vision as well as output channels through portable display devices.

In this brief we designed services and applications for the ultimate AR technology. What kind of products might come up if everything can be superimposed seamlessly in one's vision? How will visual paradigms change when the members of a society grow up with this Augmented Reality as their normality?

Lecturers: Ted Davis, Ludwig Zeller