The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons School of Design — co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball — aims to provoke dialogue and instigate critical reflection about the very nature of observation across disciplinary boundaries. Observation is fundamental to ways of knowing, yet it is rarely investigated as a set of comparative methods and contingent practices.

The lab’s aim is not to define the term observation. Instead, we are interested in cultivating an open dialogue across diverse practices about the imbedded concepts, disciplinary processes, and methodological challenges inherent in conducting observation(s). How can different disciplines learn from another’s approaches to observation? Which methods are best suited to which subjects and why, and how observation itself can create communities and initiate a new view of our everyday reality. We believe that the understanding of the complexities everyday life can only be deepened through cross-disciplinary insights that transcend the boundaries of expertise.

Driven by applied research, the OPL serves as a platform for transdisciplinary researchers and encourages collaborative learning. Drawing on an international network our aim is to rethink objects, systems and communication. The lab uses a variety of formats to foster, archive and share its research with the public, including symposiums, academic courses, exhibitions, on and offline publications.

Observation is both fundamental to, and pervasive in, ways of understanding generated by the arts and sciences. These range from direct sensory perception to the use of specialized tools such as the microscope, the telescope, the seismograph, the questionnaire, the photograph, archives, machine technology, and countless methods designed to bring into focus that which would otherwise disappear.



Pascal Glissmann

Pascal Glissmann is Assistant Professor of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design. His research electronic-life-forms inhabit the intersection of technology, art & science to explore the shifting transition from smart objects to autonomous subjects through digital and electronic craft. New technologies in combination with modern storytelling open new questions of how we perceive and observe the characteristics of life.


Selena Kimball

Selena Kimball is a research-based, interdisciplinary visual artist whose work—large-scale collage, installation, and book projects—examines visual perceptions of history. Selena is a recent recipient of the Pollock-Krasner award, the Jerome Foundation Travel grant, and a MacDowell fellowship, and is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art Practice at Parsons.


Laboratory for Art and Research

External Partner
Directed by Professor Karina Nimmerfall
The LABORATORY FOR ART AND RESEARCH at the Institute for Art and Art Theory / Intermedia, University of Cologne, is a laboratory for research based artistic practice and functions as an experimental archive and platform for exhibitions, workshops and lectures.


Alyssa Grossman

Alyssa Grossman is a social anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker, with fieldwork experience in Romania and Sweden. Her research incorporates visual, sensory, and other experimental methodologies to investigate everyday sites and practices of memory and memorialization. She is currently postdoctoral researcher in artistic practice with a focus on curating and experimental museum display practices, based at the Valand Academy of Art, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


Alexis Cuadrado

Alexis Cuadrado is a composer, producer, bassist and educator based in NYC. His works embraces a multi cultural paradigm that includes jazz, world and new music, as well as a deep commitment to comment on social issues. His most recent output is also a restless exploration of cross-disciplinary pieces that embrace poetry, film, radio and design. He is a professor at the Jazz School at the College of Performing Arts at The New School.


Margot Bouman

Margot Bouman is Assistant Professor of Visual Culture at Parsons School of Design and co-director of a university-wide graduate certificate and an undergraduate minor in gender and sexuality studies. She is completing a manuscript on sampling as a site-specific practice in contemporary art. Another research project addresses the formative role television played in the reconstitution of the historical avant-garde in the late 1960s and then, a bare decade later, modernism’s turbulent overlap with postmodernism. In 2017/18 she will be a GIDEST research fellow.
Photo by Paulo Salud