Public Engagement

General Public


Friday, October 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, Room I-202, New York, NY 10011

OBJECT AMERICA I | Observational Practices Through The Senses

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 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:

OBJECT AMERICA I | Observational Practices Through The Senses

Public Short Lectures and Discussion:

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

Presented by The Observational Practices Lab at Parsons and Parson 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 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.