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.