Public Engagement

General Public


Friday, December 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Starr Foundation Hall, Room UL102, University Center 63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

OBJECT AMERICA III | Observational Practices Through Speculation

In the face of an administration that is trying to "Make America Great Again" by shaking the very tenets of US democracy, we are asking ourselves anew — as teachers, as citizens, as researchers — what is America? Who and what does it stand for and what does it mean?

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 launched in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen LuptonSenior 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:

OBJECT AMERICA III | Observational Practices Through Speculation

Public Short Lectures and Discussion:

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

Presented by The Observational Practices Lab at Parsons and Parsons School of Art, Media and Technology.

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Humanity, Society, Social Justice, Intellectual Culture and Big Ideas


Parsons School of Design, School of Art, Media and Technology


Fine Arts, Humanities, Interaction Design, Technology



Free with registration, space is limited.



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