D.Tour: Going Nowhere, Going Somewhere by Kiersten Nash

Contrary to its appearance, political puppetry, and profiteering, Detroit is thriving. Fortunately, not as the metropolis of yore, but as a city in severe crisis. A crisis of contradiction that fractures economies, challenges ideologies, and decimates entire ecologies. D.Tour navigates the nuances of everyday life in the Motor City to understand the mechanics of modernity. Our tour will traverse qualitative aspects of the city’s socio-spatial dialectics, compliments of our chariot–a 2010 electric blue, four-door Ford Fiesta. Along the way, quantitative data will be employed to illustrate significant aggregations, contradict speculation or underscore the narrative. This tour, though situated in Detroit, is illustrative of our greater social fabric. As a recurring phenomenon of the life, death and possible rebirth of urban modernity, Detroit’s lessons are global.

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Meet average joe and josephine, Our Quantified selves by Kiersten Nash

Folks, meet Average Joe and Josephine—our quantified selves. Equipped with an anthropometry toolkit of calipers, block rulers, protractors, foot-measuring boxes, and scales, Herbert Dreyfuss and his interdisciplinary team of designers, meticulously measured every part of 'the' human body, through every stage of development.* In 1955, the results were charted in The Measure of Man: Human Factors In Design. Heralded as the pioneer of 'Human Engineering' Dreyfuss professed, "If people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—the designer has succeeded."

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Distributed Control / DIY by Kiersten Nash

“…When education becomes a venue for making a profit, delivering a product, or constructing consuming subjects, education reneges on its responsibilities for creating a democracy of citizens by shifting its focus to producing a democracy of consumers.” Or, prosumers. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was fabricated to a large extent by this coveted mixed-bred of creative producer and consumer. It is not surprising then that, as Scott Thomas confided, the most valuable asset on Obama's campaign site was the 'Download' page: "I didn't want to design a T-shirt for every single organization known to man. And I didn't want to have to create fliers for every single little party that was going on. But by just simply putting all of these assets online and by being 'transparent,' what we were able to do is activate and allow people to participate in the political process." Or more accurately, disseminate our message.

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Distributed Control by Kiersten Nash

By the mid-90s Muzak's strategy shifted from stimulus progression to "audio architecture." In attempt to immerse individuals in a various contexts, site-specific soundtracks were designed according to topology—tempo, color, rhythm, popularity, etc. "The sonic discipline of stimulus progression gave way to the atmospheric control of quantum modulation," Kazys Varnelis and Robert Sumrell point out in Blue Monday: Stories of Absurd Realities and Natural Philosophies, "ensuring that intensity can be maintained even as the music appears to have changed.…Atmospherics address individuals as they traverse different ambiances through their everyday lives." From background to foreground and from here and now to everywhere and nowhere, Muzak meandered through restaurants, banks, and shopping centers of all shapes and sizes into our psyche and soma.

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Centralized Discipline by Kiersten Nash

An interesting, albeit unexpected, precedent for this type of psychological and physiological modulation is Muzak. Yes, that seemingly banal backdrop intended to alleviate those awkward moments you experience in the elevator. Actually, Thomas Edison was one of the first to enter this playground in 1915. Using tinfoil and his trusty phonograph, Edison conducted a series of experiments or 'mood tests' in an effort to understand which musical compositions could veil 'noise' and boost morale. Edison charted emotional fluctuations of individuals as they listened to a diversity of compilations.

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L.E.E.D. or The Theories of Action, In Action Conundrum by Kiersten Nash

We produce and consume space. Space produces and consumes us. Like music, architecture is a phenomenal mnemonic device in terms of [re]presentation and [re]production of identity. Literally. One need only walk across the National Mall, visit the Empire State Plaza, or tour any one of New York City's 345 Housing Authority developments, to begin to sense the psychological and physiological implications of our constructed environments. Philosopher Henri Lefebvre explained this phenomena as a dialectic between representational space or theories of action—imagination, ideals, desires and representations of space or theories in action—plans, maps, advertisements, architectures; and practice or becoming that unfolds over time. Likewise, our government capitols, schools, and our living rooms are dynamic dialectics—assemblages of "philosophical fragments and cultural myths, images and symbols, ideas and beliefs, rituals, institutions and practices" designed and performed in flux. In this context, the reification of the Ivory Tower—a theory of action, in action—provides an opportunity to reflect on the prevailing discourse and practices of design, development,  and sustainability° (as political, economic, social, and environmental practices).

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