fenna wenselaar: playful design & visual sociology → info@fennawenselaar.com

It might be a little strange to read about this website as you’re looking at this website at this very moment, I’ll keep it short: I designed and coded this whole webpage. It is the first coding project I’ve ever done. Hopefully this webpage makes it easier to browse through projects I did, and to get a better understanding of my design practice. For more information visit the about page, that can be accessed via the button below this page.

Self-initiated project

Do you you make use of the internet? Are you online regularly? The answers on these questions are probably common sense to you: yes, of course you make use of the internet. However, you probably didn’t realise yet that this makes you a netizen. Netizen is an existing word meaning ‘citizen of the net’.

The Netizen Observer is a youtube channel exploring human behaviour in the digital realm. The short video series published on this platform aim to investigate, collect and question our online lives. Most of us live part-time digitally. Some of us spend even more time online than offline. What are we doing online? What do we show? And more importantly: how does our time online affect our everyday lives?

Self-initiated project / ongoing / visit the Netizen Observer on YouTube to see all video works.

Classic cabinets of curiosities (or kunstkabinett, rariteitenkabinet) are collections of rare objects, oddities and art. Cabinets of Curiosities can be seen as small museums. Inspired by such collections, I started my own: a digital one.

Digital Cabinet of Curiosities is a video series collecting anything remarkable people share online. Every episode is a tiny investigation on what people show and how they communicate on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, SnapChat and YouTube.

Self-initiated project / ongoing / visit the Netizen Observer on YouTube to see all video works.

Online people mostly share their successes. Failures aren’t shared publicly online. They aren’t pretty. I face successes ánd failures on a weekly basis. It can be difficult to find your position in society after graduating. Especially in the creative realm clients assume you’re willing to work for free, they have nog budget or have many applicants to choose from.

This results in receiving a ‘no’ from time to time. Such rejections are part of our (professional) lives, a part that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. Rejection letters are annoying to receive as it can be frustrating to have others deciding for you. At the same time, a good ‘no’ can help us reflect upon the path we’re taking and even guide us into the right direction.

Rejection Collection is a video series containing rejections I’ve received when starting my professional life. Rejection letters are often awkward, impersonal and formal. This series shows that, indeed they are awkward, but it is normal to receive them.

Self-initiated project / ongoing / visit the Netizen Observer on YouTube to see all video works.

My Daily Shot of Culture is a startup vlogging about cultural events. To celebrate their growing platform, 3 years of existence, and a new brand identity they organised a party. Together with Sabine van der Vooren I came up with 3 teasing videos to communicate these happenings on social media. Each video gave a way a hint for the announcements to come.

The videos were published all social media channels of My Daily Shot of Culture.

This project is an experimental try-out as a continuation of my MA project called Instaturgy. As an attempt to continue my research I started to collect more thoughts on how people experience Instagram. The idea was to make an Instagram podcast about Instagram and published on Instagram. I would shortly interview Instagram users. Each question would be an Instagram-post. This way the whole Instagram account would be a podcast-page to be explored. I started doing this, but never continued. However, I like the format and idea. Besides, I think it was an interesting experiment that perhaps could be developed further in the future.

Self-initiated project / I have posted these podcast-posts on an Instagram account I made for my graduation project. During Dutch Design Week 2019 I shared some of the interviews.

Instaturgy (instagram + dramaturgy) is an one minute video series investigating the relationship between Instagram and theatre. I started to see instagram as a stage, with users as the writer, editor, director, set designer and actor of their own story. However, one role seems to be missing: the dramaturg. In the theatre, the dramaturg looks at a performance as if being the first audience. Questioning how all aspects of the performance work together, and how an audience would perceive it. Instagram users seem to have a difficulty reflecting upon their own show. Therefore, this project takes in the position of a dramaturg.

Instaturgy is a video series questioning the dramaturgy of Instagram by deconstructing an Instagram profile. With a little help of users explaining how to deal with a specific part of the platform, Someone applies Instagram behavior in our actual, offline lives. Because, well, Instagram might be an online platform, it definitely has a strong influence on our everyday lives. What if our insta-actions were to spill out into our offline existence?

The 1-minute video series consists out of 7 episodes, all representing another element of Instagram such as hashtag, theme and bio. The episode #profilepicture can be seen on this page.

MA graduation project / Instaturgy was on show during Dutch Design Week 2019 as part of the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven.

One day I met a girl. Somehow I saw her Instagram profile before physically meeting her. Offline, she wasn’t fulfilling the expectations I had based on her Instagram profile. To me, this was very confusing and awkward. It was one of the first moments I realised how fluid the line between our online and offline lives actually is.

Social media platforms are integrated in our daily lives. One of the most popular platforms in use (at the moment of writing my thesis) is Instagram: a mobile app to share photos. On the app people showcase parts of their lives. The visual app empowers people to control every detail of the story they tell about themselves. At the same time, people use there real names and share actual daily activities. It is difficult to distinct fiction from reality on an instagram profile.

It is the performative aspect of Instagram that took my attention. People tend to show specific angles of their face, seek instagram-worthy moments and manipulate their everyday lives so that it fits their online impression management.

In my thesis I approach Instagram as ‘the Desired World,’ the protagonist goes on a journey exploring what the Desired World is like, how stories are built-up and why people desire to be part of it. The story of the play follows a classical storyline: the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey. The book itself can be read in two ways. On the left page the play can be read. On the right page you’ll find dramaturgical notes full of comments and references.

MA graduation project / Instaturgy was on show during Dutch Design Week 2019 as part of the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven.

This project is in collaboration with Gijs de Boer and Alex Blondeau. Based on the ‘Were you good today?’ interviews designed for subtly bad behavior, to make it acceptable, so you don’t feel the need to project it onto other people. Products designed for the other in ourselves.

Looking back into the subconscious wrongdoings our interviewees confessed upon, we decided to build objects that encouraged bad behaviour. We designed a series of three objects, a series which is specially made to be used inside the walls of the Design Academy considering we used these grounds as our research base.

Instead of feeling guilty when being a little bad, we design a situation that supports you. We think that design could help us to accept our subtle sins, the hidden other in us. And thus prevent us to project it onto other people. We think that accepting our tiny daily bad habits could be a start to eventually overcome othering.

Work Nap Pillow: In this academy you feel like you have to work. But sometimes you're too tired and try to secretly take a nap. We designed a pillow for that.

One Suit Fits All: In an art school clothes allow you to express yourself, but also invite judgement, so sometimes you just want to blend in. We designed a suit for that.

Under Cover Desk: After an intense meeting you sometimes need distraction. But hopefully nobody notices you're on social media. We designed a desk device for that.

This project was initiated by Hague Thinking and Design Academy Eindhoven. The project was on show during the Overturning Othering exhibition in the Hague, Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2018 and was part of an intern exhibition at the Special Tribunal for Libanon.

This project is part of the project (No) Other Self and is in collaboration with Gijs de Boer and Alex Blondeau. Othering is a process where we come to see other people as less human. It is the ''we'' versus ''them'' thinking. We tried to understand the phenomenon of othering. Often we point at others: they are different from us. Also in a context of overcoming othering we point at the other: look, they are similar to us.

We decided to come up with another approach: find the other in ourselves. We think that, when we exclude others, we point at their bad traits. But in fact, these are projected bad traits of our own. We are pointing indirectly at (an other in) ourselves.

To overcome othering, we have to own up to this hidden other in us. We came up with two ways to do so. The first way we did this was by doing interviews with a single question. We ask you how good you were today, to find the subtle sins you forgot. Most people gave themselves around 70%, and started to justify why they didn’t consider themselves a 100% good. We made videos of some of the interviews, which can be seen above. Besides, we designed objects based on these interviews. To see those, have a look at the project called ‘(no) other self’.

This project was initiated by Hague Thinking and Design Academy Eindhoven. The project was on show during the Overturning Othering exhibition in the Hague, Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2018 and was part of an intern exhibition at the Special Tribunal for Libanon.

As part of a workshop in collaboration with NOOR, we (our master department) had the opportunity to work with NOOR’s photo archive. This visual reader is made in collaboration with Nejma Boussaïd.

How do you read a journalistic photograph? This visual reader is an attempt to question the way we perceive journalistic photographs, and how easily we miss context. This visual reader explores images of the Yemeni Revolution by Yuri Kozyrev that were taken in May 2011. How do we look at such photographs from a western perspective? And most importantly, what is it that we don’t see?

There are many things we don’t know. Often we are not able to read an image correctly. Simply because of the context that we’re lacking. By introducing a photograph by description and asking questions about the context of the photograph before actually showing the image itself, we hope to raise awareness of how important it is for photographs to be contextualised.

The project was presented at NOOR.

On a daily basis we get in touch with many services who all collect and store our personal information. What they collect and why is written in their privacy policies. Texts casually published on websites that nobody ever reads.

I decided to read the privacy policies of two influential companies that are part of my everyday life: Facebook and Google. Both entering my living room day after day.   After carefully reading their policies I decided to compile and edit them by making two changes.

The policies are written in first person. They write on behalf of the whole company, saying: ‘we’. I changed the pronoun to ‘you’. So that you would read: ''Welcome to your Privacy Policy.'' Instead of: ''Welcome to our Privacy Policy.'' Secondly, I rewrote their policies into a poetry format. Poetry is a genre that requires some effort and time, whilst policies are the exact opposite: they aren’t read with attention - they often aren’t read at all. Two small changes to give insight in what a privacy policy contains and, maybe even more important, what it doesn't say.

A small edition could be purchased at de Boekenbar Utrecht.

Beanie Babies were introduced in the 90s by Ty Inc., an American company named after Ty Warner. These stuffed animals turned into a trading hype. Eventually traders got so obsessed with (rare) Beanie Babies that the hype turned into a financial bubble. This video explains in 3 minutes what a financial bubble is and how these can be recognised, with Beanie Babies as an example.

The video is based on a true story.

The Ministry of Finance The Hague introduced a project that aimed to question the stereotyping of civil servants. I was invited to interview 5 civil servants, all representing a different department within the ministry. These conversations were about their function and thoughts on what a typical civil servant is like. Besides, I focussed on other parts of the conversations such as the way they took control over the talk and how they (sometimes) not really answered my question.

By comparing these 5 conversations with each other, I could formulate a stereotype created by the civil servants themselves. I also added some observations I did myself and compared these with the expectations I had before I started the interviews. I worked with circle diagrams to visualise all these thoughts and discoveries. Apart from the diagrams, I combined pictures I took during the interview-days with quotes I considered to be remarkable. On top of that, I visualized the structure of each conversation based on the way I experienced it.

Project initiated and coordination by Bregje Jansen & Samir Aiddouch, Stagiairs MinFin Kunstcommissie, February-June 2017. This project was on show during an internal-exhibition that came with a publication.

To make people experience how they create a first impression of someone, I came up with a tiny game to test this. Is it possible to know with who you are dealing with within a few seconds? Do we miss many interesting meetings by stereotyping? Shortly: are first impressions usable?

It is a simple way to make people realise how fast they judge. It is a light and playful way to start a conversation about prejudices and stereotyping. Besides, it gives more inside in our own associations and structures that influences our thinking. This workshop explores a bit more in-depth our thinking structures compared to the First Impression To go Installation, as it takes more effort of the participant: they don't only receive a first impression, but are also asked to give one away themselves.

Part of BA graduation project / The workshop was given a few times during Dutch Design Week 2016, at the exhibition 'Hier is Utrecht', as a part of Design Perron.

Have you ever directly shared your first impression when meeting someone new? Do you judge strangers when you’re in a bad mood? Have you ever hurried for a train judging anybody who’s in your way?

We all have assumptions when meeting someone new. We expect them to like certain things, behave in a certain way, and so on. It is human to have these thoughts. However, we aren’t always aware of the prejudices popping up in our brains. Sometimes we (unconsciously) assume instead of asking.

How to start a conversation about prejudices and first impressions? To explore this question, I decided to give away my first impressions of others. I ask passengers if they are interested in receiving a first impression to go. If so, I write down what I see (changeable aspects of their appearance) and think (my first thoughts I have about them). Afterwards, I ask them whether they agree or not.

Having open conversations about how someone appears to you - and vice versa - can help to better understand each other. It feels vulnerable and can be confronting to hear assumptions people have about you. However, I discovered many people are interested to learn how they are perceived by others. After giving away hundreds of first impressions, I can confirm that it definitely made me more aware of stereotypes I hold onto in my thoughts. Above all, I learned how such an tiny open conversation makes me feel more connected to both strangers and people around me.

Every now and then the First Impression To Go Installation can still be found on festivals and other events to give their visitors an interesting and fun experience. Don't hesitate to contact me by interest.

Part of BA graduation project / Photos are taken by Lief Festival. / This project was on show during several events at Stadskantoor Utrecht, Gemeente Utrecht, Hogeschool Utrecht, Young Art Festival 2016, Lief Festival 2017, and more.

One day a colleague expressed a highly specific prejudice with me: he assumed that I only drink free mint tea. I told him that I am into many other flavours as well. His reaction: 'Oh, in that case you are definitely a latte-macchiato type of girl.' I was surprised that he sounded so sure of himself. This small conversation made me think about the way I categorise other people in a similar way. I also started to wonder whether others associate my appearance with fresh mint tea as well. I started to question the thoughts of my colleague; was he conscious about the assumptions he had of others?

Our own perception is not the only one. We easily forget that there are many more point of views. Besides, many people do not even realise that they have these 'quick thoughts' about others. What are first impressions based on? I tried to get answers through several experiments. My findings, outcomes and thoughts can be read in the book I made: Why My Colleague Thinks I only Drink Fresh Mint Tea.

BA graduation project / This project as on show during the HKU Graduation Show and Dutch Design Week 2016

With some fellow students I developed an audio tour for Unieboek Spectrum, a publishing company. Today there is a lot changing in the way we make things public; Unieboek Spectrum felt this as well. Not only they felt that ‘things are changing’, they mainly realised their position is changing because of their turnover. I collaborated with 3 fellow students: Nadine van der Bijl, Twan Eshuis and Job van Rijn. We were asked to create ‘something’ as an answer on the following question: What is our position in the present society? Soon we concluded this question was way to big to answer in 3 months. Therefore we decided to look for a smaller question: ‘the question behind the question’.

To understand this publishing company we attended several meetings and we made observations: writings, photo’s and short films of the building. We got fascinated by their working ‘habitat’ and we found out they had all their own rhythm. We came to think that the ‘answer’ on their question wasn’t too far away: maybe the 'answer' to our question could be found in their work-mentality and way of working.

They all loved books and most of them were with the company for years. We realized they couldn’t see the building (full of books and habits) the way we did, as young students visiting the company for the first time.

We decided to find another way to experience a story. To present our creative process and thoughts during these 3 months, we developed an audio tour to guide them through their own work places. We shared our thoughts and and all things we found remarkable and interesting. This way we aimed to remind them of all the fascinating things they are surrounded by, but also to challenge them to look at their own workspace and habits in another way - and maybe even question what they see. This, in order to eventually answer their big question: who are they as a publishing company today?

This project was presented to employers of Unieboek Spectrum.

To fight my jealousy of people who don’t need much sleep (see project: I Am Asleep Already), I decided to make a sleeping coat. This coat allows you to nap anywhere. Could such a sleeping habit make us more efficient? Would we be able to do more in a day?

The video on this page shows the sleeping coat. The 2 final videos I made can be seen on request. A glimpse of those videos can be seen on the two images of the research booklet I designed for this project.

This project as exhibited at Konstfack (Stockholm) and Academiegalerie Utrecht.

Some people don't need much sleep. They have time and energy for everything: work, travelling, socialising. For me, this is different. I am at my best after 8-9 hours of sleep. Choosing for sleep means missing many other things.

From time to time we deny our need for sleep. There is simply ‘no time’ for it. At times we frequently work for many hours and only sleep for a few, usually not enough to wake up well rested. We wish there would be more hours in a day.

What if we could replace sleep? What if we do not need it anymore? Or what if we could easily charge ourselves at any given time? Technology as an extension of the human body to let our biological shortcomings disappear. Do we want that? If technology makes it possible for us to stay awake forever, are we allowed to say ‘no’? Will our days never end? Avoiding and denying sleep, as if it is a trend. Are we all part of a trend we never thought could exist?

This project is a result of my jealousy of people who seem to be able to do it all. I visualised the dilemma whether you should sleep or stay awake.  The project consists out of several short video’s (see project: the Sleeper) and 3 illustration books in which I share my thoughts on sleep and how I sometimes wish I would need less.

This project as exhibited at Konstfack (Stockholm) and Academiegalerie Utrecht.

What is privacy? What is it based on? When I go out to buy underwear, the particular piece hasn't touched a behind yet. A fresh product, often made out of cotton, should be an unattached piece.You almost feel naked while buying some new fabrics to cover your genitals, because now the cashier knows what you are hiding underneath your clothes. From correcting underwear to all kinds of unveiling strings.When I buy new panties, start to wear them and wash them using my favourite washing powder, it really becomes a loaded object. Underwear, is meant to be hidden in a clothes drawer or underneath your clothes. I took photo's of all the underwear we had at home, at that moment, we had 93 pieces. I made the underwear of my family public without informing them.

This project was made at the Fine Art department of AKV. St. Joost.