School of Art, Media, and Technology


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The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons, (co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball) launches a multi-phase project and investigation, OBJECT AMERICA, to explore the idea of “America” through everyday objects. The aim is to use comparative research and observational methods—which may range from the scientific to the absurd—to expose unseen histories and speculate about the future of the country as a concept. The contemporary global media landscape is fast-moving and undercut by “fake news” and “alternative facts” which demands that students and researchers build a repertoire of strategies to assess and respond to sources of information.

For the first phase of OBJECT AMERICA launching in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to choose an object for this investigation which she believed would represent “America” into the future (she chose the Model 500 Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss designed in 1953).

Researchers will investigate this object through different disciplinary lenses — including art, climate science, cultural geography, data visualization, economics, history of mathematics, medicine, media theory, material science, music, poetry, and politics — in order to posit alternative ways of seeing. Their process and findings will be shared in three public events this fall:

For more information — including location & bios of all participants — visit our website:

Observational Practices through the Senses
Public Short Lectures and Discussion
October 13, 12-1.30pm

Michael J. Barany
Historian of modern science and mathematics, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows at Dartmouth College

Cindi Katz
Professor of Geography in Environmental Psychology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Fernando Kawai, M.D.
Geriatrician and Palliative Care Physician and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Katie Merz
Visual Artist based in New York City

Observational Practices through Specialized Instruments
Public Short Lectures and Discussion
November 3, 12-1.30pm

Sumita Chakravarty
Associate Professor of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement

Lisa George
Empirical applied economist specializing in industrial organization and political economy, and Associate Professor of Economics at Hunter College

Victoria Hattam
Professor of Politics at New School for Social Research

Roarke Menzies
New York City-based Artist and Composer

Mara Mills
Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and co-director of the Center for Disability Studies at NYU

Observational Practices through Speculation
December 1, 12-1.30pm

Anuja Bagul
Senior Material Scientist, New Technologies at Material ConneXion

Benjamin Rubin
Artist and designer, and Director of the Center for Data Arts, The New School

Marco Tedesco
Research Professor at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of the Columbia University and Adjunct Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS)

LB Thompson
American Poet and Creative Writing Instructor at The New School

For more information — including bios of all participants — visit our website:




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