Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2020

Ruowen Niu
Reading Between the Lines

In this project I attempt to deconstruct the traditional image of the book. Repurposing classic works of philosophy and fiction, I modify literary forms through erasure and concealment. Taking my inspiration from Perec's Oulipian novel A Void (a book written entirely without the use of the letter "e"), I wanted to make a statement through that which is missing.

My first revision was of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, where I cut words from the original text to change the fantastical tale into a murder mystery. I was fascinated by the potential use of editing to subvert the meaning of this story, (absurd to begin with), into something even stranger. All that remains of the original cover illustration is the image of a rabbit, and a fragment resembling a knife.

The second book I reworked was Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness. Printed on translucent paper, the writing is rendered completely illegible as the text block is subsumed by the black mass below. The only possible way to read the book is to hold a white bookmark underneath each page. Meaning emerges from blankness.

Thirdly, I approached James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake — a novel many claim to be the most difficult book in the history of mankind, not only because of the stream-of-consciousness writing technique, but also because the numerous examples and metaphors in the text require the reader to have a rich background knowledge. To heighten this sense of complexity, I covered every square inch of the book with Post-Its explaining details of the narrative; digressions upon digressions.

Yehia Abouseif

Nia Acosta

Kamal Adisa

Sakshi Agarwal

Sejal Aggarwal

Lily Saeli

K.C. Amable

Sulamita Javier Balanutsa

Emily Baro

Emily Bergerson

Xiujie Bi

Sonja Briney

Kayla Van der Byl

Dahee Byun

Kimberly Chan

Krish Chandiramani

Militza A. Rodríguez Charr

Julie Yu Chen

Xingman Cheng

Habin Cheong

Kristen Chik

Paloma Corrigan

Misha Dhanoolal

Vicky Fan

Vincent Garcia

Cyril Gordon

Yangchen Maya Gruben

Maria Guardazzi

Gideon Gulko

Esra Gumrukculer

Aanya Gupta

Arani Halder

Bobby Hill

Jinghan Hu

Olivia Hunter

Sejung Hwang

Geddes Alexander II

Jyudeh Maximilian Russ Jarrett

Madison Jennings

Won Kyung Jung

Inga Kan

Suji Kang

Ayse Yaren Kaya

Prithi Khalique

Shanjida Kibria

Celine Kim

Seowon Kim

Suah Kim

Youjong Kim

Rasheka Krishan

Eli Lederberg

Grace Ledoux

Alicia Lee

Hyunseo Suzy Lee

Natashia Lee

Rachel J. Lee

Yoo An Lee

Tiffany Leung

Emily Li

Sinong Li

Qiyao Lin

Jiayi Liu

Sichao Liu

Morella Tovar M

Ares Maia

Sophia Marinelli

Julia McGillicuddy

Sanika Mehta

Eleni Mentis

Anthony Muchai Muiruri

Daniel Mullins

Meredith Nelson

Ruowen Niu

Catalina O'Connor

Hyun sun Ohm

Carolyn Olaguivel

Lorna Oppenheim

Kyle Palma

Anastasia Contos Papakonstantinou

Brendon Park

Jimin Park

LeeJun Park

Sanha Park

Tommy Park

Tunchanok Patana-anake

Sean Phan

Delaney Poitras

Vincent Privitera

Jhoenny Ramirez

Taylor Sade Raschillo

Zhen (Yoomi) Ren

Elizabeth Richards

Rachel Rudolph

Leoder Sanchez

Maria Sanchez

Simon Sciacovelli

Shreya Shah

Seth Sharbono

Cindy Shi

Mimi Shih

Avni Shivkumar

Arunima Sinha

Shivam Sinha

Jason Decker Sloves

Bailey Storms

Tingyu Su

Yuchen Su

Kelt Tobunluepop

Kiana Toossi

Shivani Toshniwal

Jeanette Tran

Valerie Trisnadi

Yi-Chieh Tsai

Manasi Vashi

Emil Waldron

Isabella Wang

Jingyi Wang

Yuzheng Wang

Sophie Westfall

Ellie Wolfond

Jiapei Wu

Andy Yang

Xinchen Zhang

Yujing Zhang

Evelin Susan Fung Zhong

Evgeniya Zykova