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BFA THESIS @ FIONA LIN

08 2020


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Published by Blurb, Inc. 580 California Street Suite 300 San Francisco, CA 94104 USA https://www.blurb.com/ Blurb, Inc. Printed and bound in the USA All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission from the designer. This book was written, designed, and edited by Fiona Lin. It is set in Editorial New, a serif typeface designed by Pangram Pangram Foundry and Plain, a sans-serif typeface designed by Franรงois Rappo and published through Optimo in 2013.

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RE:VALUE Process Book Boston University School of Visual Arts BFA Thesis Process

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01 /

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Overview & Thesis Statement

Topic Exploration

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Research

Preparing for the Gallery


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Letter to Change

Transition Into the Digital Space

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RE:VALUE Store

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OVERVIEW & THESIS STATEMENT

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Boston University School of Visual Arts BFA Thesis Exhibition Fiona Lin @ 2020

RE:VALUE is a digital archive of the human condition selling stories through color. The store explores how technology and mass consumption are changing our relationship with objects.

01 / Overview & Thesis Statement

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RE:VALUE store is a digital archive. → Ownership embodies the essence of the human experience, fuelling fundamental human motivations of efficacy, self-identity, and belonging. While mass consumption and materialism are often viewed in a negative light in the age of credit card debt and sustainability advocacy, objects can be more than mere tools and luxury. From the age of two, we are aware of the idea of ownership; at the age of six, we exhibit the “endowment effect�, in which we place more value on items that are or have been in our possession. Our possessions often become an extension of ourselves, and a tie to a person, time, or place we hold dear.

Rapid technological advancements have pushed retail therapy into the norm, resulting in a $145 Billion increase in e-commerce alone in the past two years (U.S). Services such as one-day shipping, contactless payment, and free returns are created to meet customer expectations for an increasingly seamless shopping experience. As a result, the act of purchasing stopped carrying as much weight and the pace of exchange is growing at an unsustainable rate. This phenomenon is driving us into a progressively materialistic world of instant gratification and psychological displacement.

Stories old and new narrate the relationship between people and objects, from Cinderella, a story characterized by a significant object (her slipper), to Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a career built upon the belief that people are interested in how others relate to their possessions. Growing up as a global nomad, my relationship with objects was one characterized by practicality, yet valued by sentimentality. However, this relationship is ever-changing in the digital age, and sentimentality as value may be headed toward becoming a relic of the past.

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What is pushing this desire of ownership? How has technology and mass consumption redefined the way we assign value to objects? RE:VALUE is a digital archive of the human condition, selling stories through color. The store explores ownership through a multidimensional value system on a gradient map, curates items as repositories of meaning, and visualizes the correlation between age and type of value. Viewers are invited to explore items on display and purchase a story by trading in their own. Through an unconventional shopping experience, I hope to recontextualize ownership and break the vicious cycle of mindless retail therapy.

01 / Overview & Thesis Statement

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TOPIC EXPLORATION

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Condensed Mind Map, January 2020

02 / Topic Exploration

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02 / Topic Exploration

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What if... How can we...

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To begin exploring thesis topics, I generated a list of 50 open-ended questions centered around the themes of people, society, and psychology. Questions include “how can we explore the correlation between consumerism and self-esteem” and “how can we better connect with others through this shared human experience”. Ultimately, I was inspired by the question above: what if we could experience other people’s memories?

02 / Topic Exploration

With the ideas of consumerism and ownership in mind, I went ahead with some more research.

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Section Title

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RESEARCH

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The Psychology of Things, a research anthology designed in the style of a catalogue, February 2020

In the research phase, I looked at a variety of business journals and scientific articles on relevant topics such as consumerism, non-substance addiction, technology, and ownership.

03 / Research

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On Mass Consumption, Technology and Non→ Substance Addiction This antholoy is a collection of articles on relevant topics, visual forms, and a summary of current statistics on e-commerce, mass consumption, and non-substance addiction definition, diagnoses, symptoms and treatment options. The publication features an insert of a smaller book documenting my personal no-buy year progress. Studies have shown a positive correlation between technological advancements and consumerism. While digital marketing and the ease of e-commerce propels cash flow on the consumer’s end, independent seller platforms like Etsy and second hand reselling apps like Poshmark and Depop are adding to the problem on the seller’s end. What is pushing this desire of ownership? Is it the internal boost of self-esteem and happiness, or the external driver built upon societal norms? What does buying happiness mean? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition added a new subcategory of disorders called Non-Substance Related Disorders under Substance Related and Addictive Disorders, thus expanding the definition of addiction. Although not officially included in the DSM-5, several internet-related behavioural addictions were considered and are currently under investigation, and CBD alone has a prevalence of 1.1-16% (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

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This includes addiction related to both shopping and online shopping, both of which show symptoms of addiction such as compulsive, excessive, and repetitive engagement in a risky behavior, being unable to stop the activity, craving the activity or behaviour, and being unable to recognise the consequences of the behaviour (safety, financial, emotional, physical). As an avid online window-shopper and selfproclaimed minimalist who is approaching complete financial independence, I started closely tracking my spending habits. Last year, I also started reselling preloved items on apps like Poshmark and Depop. After the initial sense of responsibility, I noticed that the more I sell, the more I am willing to purchase new items to create a “balance” or reward myself. After speaking to several friends who were engaging in the same activity, I learned that this experience is shared. The act of purchasing stopped carrying as much weight when free returns and the option of reselling became available. As a result, the pace of exchange and flow of consumer goods is simply shocking. For this reason, I decided that 2020 was the year I purchase only “needs”, and resist giving into “wants”.

03 / Research

Cover of The Psychology of Things, a research anthology

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Page Map of The Psychology of Things, 2020


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03 / Research

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PREPARING FOR THE GALLERY

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A snapshot of my space in the studio, featuring timelines and models

Initial sketches of the space, project timeline and other relevant material populating my desk. Having everything in one place really helped me see past the anxiety-inducing scope of the project and stay organized.

04 / Preparing for the Gallery

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Participant names have been removed from select screenshots

At the same time, I sent out a short survey on Instagram to gauge interest. To my surprise, multiple people approached me and asked to be updated on the research process as it was a topic of interest to them.

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Brainstorming pages from my notebook, February 2020

To the final set of deliverables: a visual identity system, a brand reel, surveys, and a 3D data visualization using objects & pedestals on a gradient map on the floor.

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04 / Preparing for the Gallery

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This Sketchup model as an earlier concept sketch. At this point, layout was flexible as we hadn’t visited the gallery or been assigned spaces yet. I was also considering both options: either focusing on 3D data or brain activity.

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Fifty questions, two mind maps, one timeline, one research anthology, and countless sketches later, I finally created a 3D model on Sketchup, accompanied by a storyboard of the exhibition flow. The Value Theory 1.0 was a physical pop-up store featuring a touch interaction. Each object on display triggered a reaction on the LED wall, which would then map out different brain activity depending on the memory associated with the object.

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04 / Preparing for the Gallery

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ARDUINO UNO & LED STRIP TESTS From testing a single LED to programming patterns on a LED strip.

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04 / Preparing for the Gallery

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LETTER TO CHANGE

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05 / Letter to Change On December 31, 2019, the Chinese government confirmed that health authorities were treating dozens of people for a new unidentified virus. On January 11, Chinese state media reported the first known death from the virus. Within just three months, this virus would spread across continents and lead us into an unprecedented time of loss, uncertainty, and standstill. But at the time this letter was written, we had no idea. We weren’t aware of the full extent of its consequences. We said “see you in a week” to our friends who were going home for spring break. School was supposed to resume in-person activity in four weeks. We were not prepared to spend the next few months in complete isolation.

COVID 19: A Reaction Coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As the pandemic continues to evolve and statistics transform at an exponential scale, we have finally grown from ignorance and denial to acceptance and taking action. This virus has brought our nation anger and fuelled unprecedented hatred. We have let our ignorance hold us back from action, projected our fear and prejudice in order to place blame, and emptied shelves of necessities across the globe, leaving nothing for the less fortunate. We selfishly react as if preparing for an apocalypse now, but when China was suffering in complete chaos, we simply watched from afar. There was no declaration of an outbreak, no plan or precaution in place, and no will to stay informed and unbiased. Up until a week ago, we had the President of the United States questioning why scientists weren’t treating the virus with flu vaccines. We were given extra time, yet repeating history.

At 217,436 cases and 8,919 deaths total reported (as of 5:33 AM, March 19, 2020), the most frightening thing about this global outbreak isn’t the flu-like symptoms or the increasing mortality rate, but what it reveals about human nature. Rather than fighting this virus together as a species of equal vulnerability, we pointed fingers, allowing deep-seated prejudice and racism manifest in visible and invisible forms. Every day, we are seeing photos of Asian people used in inappropriate and irrelevant contexts, racist remarks repeated, and violence, generalised to an entire continent. We so foolishly fixated on the low mortality rate to justify our lack of action. We forgot that this is a group effort, and that our actions amount to repercussions bigger than ourselves. Now we suffer the consequences. Schools have evacuated campuses, stores are shut down, stocks are plummeting, businesses have come to a halt, and the streets are becoming emptier each day. Now we understand social distancing; now we’re grieving our losses.

05 / Letter to Change

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A LETTER WRITTEN IN THE TIME OF CHANGE, UNCERTAINTY, AND LOSS

Nevertheless, I believe that with information and consequence come change. On a personal level, I never would have imagined a senior year cut short like this. All the faces I haven’t seen enough, the longawaited trip to Europe I never got to go on, the thesis show I have only dreamt of, the one ceremony our four years have amounted to... However trivial these may seem in the grand scheme of things, this virus has disrupted each and every one of our lives. Times like this shape our ability to adapt. From rethinking projects with limited space and resources to adjusting to the time difference, creating my own time zone to live in for the rest of the semester, I’m actually excited by the opportunity it presents. My project can now live somewhere in the digital space, maybe more permanently than an installation at 808 would have. This means that I can now go back to a familiar place, working with digital tools such as 3D modelling softwares and code. I don’t think I will have to change my project entirely — the essence will be there, since I have mostly been ideating and working on the concept so far. I also find it interesting to do a project about tangible objects in the digital age in the digital space.

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Will the medium be a part of the commentary? How will I work with interaction in a virtual gallery? How can I translate my concept for the 808 space to a digital gallery, or, how can I use augmented reality to share this gallery in different spaces? What does a fluid installation mean? Can I code a game for the user to interact with my installation? For me, I think this will mean asking even more questions, exploring what tools are available to us and learning new skills, but also what’s possible within the time constraints. Maybe that’ll even mean finally learning back end databases to collect responses for the interaction.

Me on April 21, 2020, making this process book: no, it did not mean learning back end.

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This spread is dedicated to the newly renovated 808 gallery and our could-have-been installation.

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05 / Letter to Change

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TRANSITION INTO THE DIGITAL SPACE

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Olympia Gallery

Currently showing the International Poster Exhibition of Graphic Design Festival Scotland.

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Exploring Available Tools Online & Designer Responses

Featured are virtual exhibitions created on Artsteps, a web app for creating, sharing, and embedding personal virtual reality spaces.

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When we first thought about transitioning into the digital space, I was at a loss. The whole element that tied the concept together was the touch interaction, and that had to be in person. What does it even mean to make a commentary on how technology is making mass consumption carry less weight and therefore redefining value when the objects displayed aren’t even real? Doing a virtual thesis requires a completely new set of skills. Even so, I knew I wanted my project to be entirely online, one, to take advantage of the irony, and two, because I have no space or material available to me here. After a few hours of research and a couple of “this could be a computer science thesis instead” comments from my CS friends about some new ideas, I decided to see what tools are available to me first, and to let that decide my new concept. Looking at how other students and even professionals are responding to this new situation we’re in really reminded me that we are all in this together.

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Louvre Museum Paris

Experience Louvre Museum in virtual reality by YouVisit

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and historic monument located in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet). In 2019, the Louvre received 9.6 million visitors, making it the most visited art museum in the world. The Musée du Louvre, Tuileries Garden and Cour Carrée will remain closed until further notice. All those who have purchased a ticket online will automatically receive a refund – no action is required. Due to the number of refunds we have to process, this operation may take up to three months. In the meantime, you can virtually explore Louvre Museum in a fully immersive 360-degree experience. (Information taken partially from the Louvre Museum website.)

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06 / Transition into the Digital Space

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Ikonospace

3D and Virtual Reality Solutions

“At Liebermann’s” in Museum VR Experience

“Artificial Tears” VR Art Installation

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In 2015, the company began work on the world’s first Virtual Reality Museum for the DSL collection in Paris and started in parallel building the basis of what would become Ikonospace Pro Exhibition Designer software. The VR Museum was first showcased at the FIAC art fair 2016 in Paris and received several awards, among which “Digital Collection of the Year” by the Larry’s list. Since then, Ikonospace is a pioneer and front-runner in the Tech Art sector and plans to redefine in the months and years to come the boundaries of possibility within the digital realm. (Information from Ikonospace.com.)

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David Zwirner, Viewing Rooms. Turning his personal website into a host for virtual viewing rooms.

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Live! @livetalkfrom

A series of live talks to fight quarantine, boredom and instil hope.

Live! is a series of live talks on Instagram with a focus on the creative industry. The coronavirus outbreak has many people, designers and non-designers, working remotely and housebound. The idea is to right quarantine, boredom, and most importantly, to instill hope. Next talks @extraordinerica / @sometimes__always.

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From the most recent talk @sometimes__always, featuring Gabriel Finotti on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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Finalizing Focus & Developing a Measure

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On the left is a part of t he final survey, including questions about the chosen object (“prized possession�) itself and the 8-item measure on value (N=40).

With the touch interaction gone, I had to come up with something else to replace it and tie the concept back together. During the last review before spring break, an idea of having information or some sort of scale on the floor was brought up. My ideas were all over the place then: the touch interaction, the LED wall and brain waves, the objects and their respective stories, and a value system. Finally, I decided that a developed value system would really benefit the store, since the whole notion of consumerism is built upon money, our currency. What if my currency wasn’t based on numerical values? No one named the most expensive thing they owned as their most prized possession; therefore, there must be some other axis of value in place here. Is it sentimentality? Or how it reminds them of who they are? From here, I began a more focused research path, investigating value theories. Previous studies showed mix findings in what we value and how we assign value to our possessions. I wanted this project to fill the gap and open up possibilities of a multidimensional value system. In the end, I came up with my own 8-item measure for four different types of value, based on prior research that showed positive correlations between them, yet were not comprehensive: material, social, representative, and sentimental (Richins 1994; Richins & Dawson, 1992). The measure consists of two items for each category, and has four reverse-coded items. The calculated result will reveal a coordinate on an axis sitting on not a numerical scale, but a gradient map.

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Parts of the final survey, including questions about the chosen object (“prized possession�) itself and the 8-item measure on value (N=40).

Once I collected enough data, I started standardizing the design and crop of each object. In the survey, I asked participants to take a full, non-cropped image of their item on preferably a solid background so it would be easier to Photoshop out the background. I isolated every object manually to avoid any distractions, and enclosed each one with a border and label corresponding to its name, age, and value color.

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3D Modeling Experiments

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Rough 3D sketches in Artsteps, Sketchup, and

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At this point, I had two set deliverables: a 3D model to preserve something from the gallery, and a website to turn a physical pop-up store into an e-commerce store. In the end, I decided to go with Sketchup, the tool that was most powerful and I was most comfortable with.

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Screens from Unity

Then, in order to navigation within the 3D model more natural (not using the Sketchup defaults), I learned to use Unity, a cross-platform game engine. Here, I built a character controller that allows the user to explore a space in first-person using the arrow keys.

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Branding Moodboard

Look & Feel of the Pop-Up Store

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From here, i started developing a visual system focusing on contrasting typography and bright colors. This would later transform with the web development.

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RE:VALUE Store

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01. revalue [verb] /ri:’valju:/, to value anew; to make a new valuation of something. 02. re: regarding, with reference to, value. It comes from a form of the Latin word res meaning “matter” or “thing.”

07 / RE:VALUE Store

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TYPOGRAPHY

Aa Aa

Editorial New @ Pangram Pangram H1: Editorial New Regular, 48 pt H2: Editorial New Regular, 36 pt

Plain @ François Rappo H3: Plain Regular, 24 pt Body: Plain Regular, 20 pt Caption: Plain Regular, 16 pt

COLOR PALETTE

TEXT

BG

STICKERS →

#000000

#EBDFDC

#FFA038

#FFE940

#A4CC7A

#50A7FF

#A14AFF

#E278A6

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Wireframes & Prototypes

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Implementing the end-to-end product design process, from researching, wireframing, prototyping, to testing and iterating in between. This page features initial wireframes of the basic user flow.


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07 / RE:VALUE Store

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Cargo Tests

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After exploring different combinations of navigation, landing and product page designs, I still wasn’t completey satisfied with the visual design. But the flow and IA were validated through V1 usability testing, and this whole process had to be completed in a month, so I moved on to iterating on Cargo.

I chose Cargo as my web host for its flexibility with custom code, but there were still limitations. That wasn’t ideal, but as this is a design project, I decided that coding from scratch would be taking time away from the actual designing.

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Every year at the BFA Thesis Show, at least one upperclassman would say to me, “this is going to be you in x years. Start thinking, thesis is supposed to be your dream project.” What does a dream project even mean? What is enough for the scope of a thesis project, and how do I know what I decide at this one point in time is going to be something that I can wake up excited to work on for an entire semester? Even now, I can’t say for certain that I know the answers to those questions, but I know that I created a project that sifts through my past and current experiences, challenges my analytical and technological skills, and at 5:16 pm, May 5, 2020, I am proud of. This semester has been a journey. We faced a pandemic that fragmented one studio into 24 pieces spread across four continents. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives on an unprecedented scale— life for some is at a standstill, while frontline workers are facing mortality every second. It almost feels like a glimpse into a surreal future, when our only regular interaction is with a screen. For designers, tools and spaces we deemed necessary were taken away from us. Most of the class, myself included, had to reimagine the form of our projects. I spent a good portion of the seven weeks we had left exploring options and trying to figure out what was possible. In these times of confinement, we were forced to become adaptable. We discovered new ways of making, checked in on each other, and learned that design exists in more planes than we ever knew, and that making is always possible. In a way, the circumstances worked in my favor. For a lot of people, this is the most they have ever traveled or moved. They are beginning to notice an increasing attention to their belongings and to what really matters in the end. When you are ordered to evacuate within a few days, you have to quickly figure out what you want to take with you in a small carry-on. I told them that was my life growing up. None of this would have been possible without the support of my friends, family, and School of Visual Arts faculty members. Thank you!

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Profile for Fiona Lin

RE:VALUE BFA Thesis Process Book  

Full BFA Thesis documentation at https://fionalin.co/.

RE:VALUE BFA Thesis Process Book  

Full BFA Thesis documentation at https://fionalin.co/.

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