Public Engagement

General Public


Friday, November 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

OBJECT AMERICA II | Observational Practices Through Specialized Instruments

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 II | Observational Practices Through Specialized Instruments

Public Short Lectures and Discussion:

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

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.



Recent Activity

Getting Here

Detailed Directions

By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.

Event Registration Required

This event requires registration.