About the Project

This site and project is part of a class at Parsons the New School for Design.  Students, artists and collaborators working with Andrew Robinson, Assistant Professor of Design in the School of Design Strategies are exploring the senses through collaboration, mapping of time, space, narrative, design and form. This particular project begins with an exploration of sound and story.

The novel “The Museum of Innocence” by Orhan Pamuk opens with the line…

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.”

This project is an ongoing collaboration between first year students enrolled at Parsons, The New School for Design who are taking the foundation Laboratory class with Andrew Robinson, Assistant Professor. Additional collaborators include MFA candidates in the New School for Drama, and you, if you would like to participate. The items in this case are artifacts from the first part of this collaboration.

This collaborative project operates like a game of telephone, where stories are recorded, written and interpreted through visual art, then interpreted through theatrical writing, then interpreted again through performance.

The novel The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk opens with the line “It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.” Our project takes its cue from this opening line of text and explores the format of the curiosity or wonder cabinet, an early form of the museum that emerged as a collecting phenomenon during the Renaissance, and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The notion of a wonder cabinet has reappeared
through art works today and include their use in the art and conceptual movements of Fluxus’ boxes and Surrealism‘s Objet trouvé and through the work of artists such as Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Carolee Schneemann, Christine Hill, Tom Sachs, Mark Dion and the author Orhan Pamuk to name just a few.

Many of these artists have used this form in order to examine the ways in which dominant ideologies, and institutions shape our understanding of the world and give voice to the personal stories of the world rather than just the narratives of the powerful.

Our project takes its cue from the opening line of text of Orahn Pamuk’s novel, in order to explore a sense of voice and memory by asking students to
record and transcribe interviews with people of their choosing, family, friends and strangers on the streets of New York City; asking them to
describe their happiest moment. These interviews were used as a source of inspiration to create a wonder cabinet containing a visual assemblage
as a response to one or more of the interviews. Students did drawings, researched materials, and collaborated with their peers so that each box
visually responds in some way to each adjacent box in the sequence.

These boxes are on display in order to engage students and faculty in a conversation. The boxes are being shared with MFA candidates and
students of the New School for Drama. These students will write a series theatrical monologues as their response to each of the wonder cabinets
in this exhibit. These monologues will then be read / performed by acting students and video taped and documented online.

Selected project learning outcomes:

  • collaborate by participating and communicating as part of a team
  • responsible, engaged and informed critique as an individual and as part of a team.
  • the ability to manage the creative process from brainstorming and idea development through
    research/data collection, analysis, and editing.
  • the ability to develop insights by engaging with a topic and collecting and analyzing data.
  • the ability to implement formal craft skills and draw upon materials, tools and techniques from other
    foundation courses in a manner that appropriately reflects and communicates intent.
  • the ability to articulate design arguments that are analytical and innovative.

2 thoughts on “About the Project

  1. Pingback: Wonder Cabinets Exhibition « Cabinets of Wonder

  2. Pingback: School of Design Strategies » Exhibition: Wonder Cabinets

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