The Digital Semester: New Projects From the Remote Mode


Almost 100 courses, supervised by more than 50 lecturers: The Merz Akademie, University of Art, Design and Media, successfully started the summer semester in remote mode. The semester is to be designed in such a way that the exams of all the courses held can be taken regularly and that the restrictions for students and lecturers are kept to a minimum. The primary goal is to contain the coronavirus.

An unusual picture at the start of the semester: no students in the seminar rooms, studios and workshops, no first-year students getting to know the campus. Professors and lecturers who cannot travel to Stuttgart from the USA, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Poland. Instead, work was carried out under high pressure to ensure that the courses could start in remote mode on time on 23 March.

Created March 2020 during the Corona Virus crisis, this website serves as a document of our work during the semester–done under the unusual circumstances of “social distancing”, home office, quarantine, loneliness, joy, fear, sickness, health… With Jonas Mekas’s film Diaries, Notes and Sketches (also known as Walden) from 1968 as an inspiration, the site unifies our various levels of work with the conditions of our everyday lives, with lectures conceived as “diaries, notes and sketches” drawing lines to other more complete projects.

As a university with an affinity for the media, we naturally want to respond positively to the challenges posed by the official requirements for the containment of the virus and offer students a special semester. In doing so, the creative scope and hitherto little tested possibilities of online teaching should be in the foreground. With unbelievable energy, the teachers and staff have switched their teaching programme to remote mode within a few days and the students are also very committed to the project. We will be able to learn a lot from this semester,

says Prorector Maren Schmohl.

One example is the introductory course for first-year students, which is led by lecturer and artist Florian Clewe. During the first week of their studies, the students put their own interpretations of the Dutch action “Tussen Kunst en Quarantaine” (Between Art and Quarantine) into practice. During an introduction to art history they demonstrated that they can also be creative in domestic quarantine: In their own home they recreated well-known works of art, using only materials and things that were available to them at home.


In the project “Screen Stories”, Lee’s students use their screen-based experiences to develop new methods of storytelling.

Veronika Wiens imagined a personal quarantine-utopia in which she hosts a remote dance party and learns to make the perfect pasta:

For the time being, we cannot assume that we will be able to return to classroom teaching quickly. But online teaching is also an interesting opportunity for us to learn more about communicative situations – and how they are determined by the channels. Even in the disruptions. And depending on the official requirements, we can flexibly adapt the teaching organisation,

says the dean of the Merz Akademie, Prof. Peter Ott.

Events for interested pupils such as the one-week trial study or information days have been postponed to a later date or are also offered online.


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