VC Diploma Publication 2019

Creating an imaginary design collective shrouded in mistery

The Visual Communication Department of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) annually releases a publication that showcases the BA and MA students’ thesis works alongside informations about the students. Each publication adheres to a new and unique concept. For the 2019 edition, we decided to bring the thesis projects’ contents into the foreground rather than the students themselves, and imagined all students as members of one large design collective. Thus, all works are showcased anonymized and are sorted according to objective criteria.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

Students are anonymized through the implementation of systematic student IDs, which are as long as not be instantly memorizable. The IDs serve as placeholders for the students themselves and mark the students’ works throughout the book. The book is split into five different chapters: Characteristics, Principles, Content, Positions and Results.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

In the chapter «Characteristics», students are sorted according to several properties relating to their person, their work and the contents they submitted to publication. Thus, the notion of a chronological sorting throughout the book is deconstructed and instead, the variety of differing sequences forming the publication is introduced.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

The chapter «Principles» forms the manifesto of the imaginary design collective, mixing up the two voices of the BA and the MA director of the Visual Communication Department by alphabetic order, to further create one collective rather than two distinct voices.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

In «Content», all images submitted by the students are sorted by metrics such as brightness, size and formal specifications, reducing the images to their visual metrics, forming a whole in the absence of contextual information.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

The chapter «Positions» comprises the students’ written statements in regards to the manifesto defined in «Principles». Statements are gathered by topic and sorted by author ID numbers. While students decided freely on which positions to react to, this chapter forms a carpet of varied opinions without focus on individual voices.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

In the last chapter «Results», the students’ journey within the collective comes to an end. The publication reflects this with an outro containing the project descriptions of the BA and MA diplomas, again sorted by the author ID numbers.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4
Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

The concept of the publication and its system are both reflected and completed on the front cover and back cover. The front cover portrays all members of the collective (students) in a uniform manner; light, clothings, hairstyles and poses are directed to create a mass of nearly indistinguishable people—a single collective. The back shows the ID numbers assigned to the people depicted, creating a complementary correspondence to the front.

Skala_VC Diploma Publication 2019_4

Special attention was given to the production of the publication. Materiality, printing methods and binding were carefully directed. Using three coatings of white and one coating of black for certain highlights on a slightly yellowish natural paper, a higher contrast and clarity for the images was reached, comparing to what would have been possible on the same paper without coatings. To further highlight them and draw a reference to ID card / passport numbers, the IDs were lined with white coatings and thereafter printed a second time on top of the lining. Additional references to security features in print were made with a custom «VC» guilloche pattern that was overlaid in black on top of the image content.