As designers, we have an incredible set of skills to challenge rules and authority. We also possess the ability to make thoughtful conceptual and aesthetic choices that allow our work to appear in multiple realities. This week, we will look at physical objects as another visual language in our communication toolkit. Since this week requires special attention to how our work is situated within the world, we will look briefly at the material culture of objects (creation, usage, and consumption) and how their qualities are transformed in space and time.

In class, we will use the 2014 exhibition “Disobedient Objects” as a common starting point. We will look at the history of objects at the heart of various social movements since the 1970s to contemporary and even ongoing demonstrations.

Using your topic of interest, your collected research, and designed performance, fabricate and disseminate multiples of an object into the world. Please bring the original object to class (if possible) as well as a series of artifacts documenting the deployed object.

What are the primary principles and tactics at play in your object? Does your object leverage its inherent qualities to subvert expectations or has it been completely transformed to provoke?

Exercise 4 is due October 24, 2019

Please read and be prepared to discuss the following readings:

Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon “Introduction” in Disobedient Objects (2014)


What is “performance” today? What is lost and gained within a visual language that requires the representation of a body in space? This week, we will investigate performance/performativity as the complex negotiation of space, time, and the body. As a form of visual communication, we are especially concerned with how “performance” engages and communicates with a particular audience.

In class, we will look at historical forms of performance art such as the dance performances of the Bauhaus to contemporary examples like Sun, Sea (Marina) at this year’s Venice Biennale. We will explore the exciting and evolving relationship of politics, tradition, social engagement, and the creative/art world.

Using your research from Week 6 to guide your investigation this week, design and enact a performance in space that proposes an alternative means to engage with information, improvisation, rules and systems. The performer’s body and its appearance in a medium is inextricably linked to various technical and formal issues that should be engaged to further the position you have taken about your research.

How is your performance meant to be witnessed? Is it instructive, participatory, or collaborative? How do you intend to document your/others actions for distribution, if at all? The design of your performance can be aided with the addition of something you make, project, or write.

Produce your work so that it can be shared, experience, and/or enacted by others. If you documented your performance via video, that counts as shareable material. If you produced complimentary ephemera for your performance, such as posters or surveys or objects, they count as shareable, as well.

Exercise 3 is due October 17, 2019

Please read and be prepared to discuss the following readings:

Alexander Galloway, “Are Some Things Unrepresentable” in The Interface Effect (2012)

Shannon Mattern, “Local Codes: Forms of Spatial Knowledge” (2019)



How do we gather, edit, alter, and present information? How do we reveal the network of ideas and influences that produce our information? We will explore how methods of research transform communication, inspire new methods of communication and community. In addition to being able to categorically identify the strengths/weaknesses of information, we’re interested in what information is underrepresented, even negated, and what it reveals about the politics and aesthetics of its creation.

In class, we will look at the act of marginalia, and the power it has to critique and subvert narratives. We will examine the material culture of historical acts of notation to contemporary guerilla projects. The workshop we will conduct in class will be geared towards building a consensus around the terminology central to the course through the negotiation of language. Interests will emerge from individual agency, while supporting collective action.

Select an existing document that relates to an issue of concern for you - it can be a recent news article on the climate crisis, an advertisement on train fares, a website, a portrait. Markup the existing texts or images and produce an alternative narrative via maginalia.

The processes of “reviewing” can take on many forms. Is your markup an act of subversion that takes on the original aesthetics of the document? Or is it an explicit drawing or writing over existing information? The original work can be visible or your “marginalia” can take on a life of its own. Consider how the presentation of your work next week will impact our experience, and how the reader will encounter your new narrative.

Produce your work as a multiple that can be shared and circulated.

Exercise 2 is due October 10, 2019


Nishat Awan, “Mapping Otherwise: Imagining Other Possibilities and Other Futures” in Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice: Materialism, Activism, Dialogues, Pedagogies, Projections (2017)


Parsons School of Design, School of Art Media and Technology
PSAM 3060, Currents: CD Workshops; CRN 5897
Workshop 2: Staging Practice, Fall 2019
Matthew Bohne (contact)
Lucy Siyao Liu (contact)
Thursday, 12:10 to 14:50, 63 Fifth Ave, Room: 503


About the Course
In this workshop, we will consider publishing as spatial practice. Publishing is inherently extra-disciplinary. It lies beyond the expertise of any one knowledge sphere, demanding an engagement between disparate fields of study and different modes of knowing. It is a practice that mediates: every system of organizing, accumulating and distributing actively reshapes its contents, and in turn, contributes to new lines of thinking. We will engage with topics such as scales of production, dissemination, modes of interface, techniques in spatial practice and activist epistemologies.

Course materials are distributed on are.na, a collaborative research platform: https://www.are.na/lucy-siyao-liu/cd-workshop-staging-practice-with-props. We encourage students to contribute to this experimental working archive by curating a body of research to complement individual projects. The goal is to situate student research and interests within a broader landscape of design production and to address parallel concerns in other disciplines.

Course Schedule
We will be meeting Thursdays from 12:10pm to 2:50pm. Unless notified, absences will result in a lowering of grade.

October 3 Introductions; Fields of Production
Exercise: Research as Critique

October 10 Review: Research as Critique
Exercise: Performance as Hypothesis

October 17 Review Performance as Hypothesis
Exercise: Disobedient Objects

October 24 Review Disobedient Objects
Exercise: Staging Incursions, FInal Project

October 31 Final Workshop Review

Staging Practice Syllabus