The Center for American Placelessness

January 13, 2010

Art 471 is a Design Seminar class intended to mimic the “real world.” Two professors teach the class. You switch halfway through and thus have two different “creative directors” for two separate projects.

I had initially fought against the prospect of continuing to explore the concept of place. What I began with This Place Projects hardly feels resolved, but I worried that should I continue to gravitate toward a single topic, my portfolio will be too focused.

Whoops. Too much research has seeped its way into my permanent consciousness, and the most interesting idea I could propose was about place. Or placelessness.

The Center for American Placelessness is a traveling museum that seeks to educate the public on the consequences of living in a homogenized landscape devoid of meaning or community. It will encourage community-based approaches to land-use planning and development. It will encourage place-making.

Here is my project proposal. Center for American Placelessness ::: Proposal

The project required us to pinpoint a negative scenario, understand the culture surrounding it, and work to offer positive solutions or alternatives. I proposed a handful of rather silly ideas. Below is one of them, a campaign against insincere positivity in advertising.

But now I’ve accepted that it’s okay to focus on one topic. Place is a broad concept that incorporates aspects of geography, architecture, urban planning, public policy, community-building, economics and more. Endless. I can read so many books and never understand it completely.

Besides, why not become an expert of sorts? By the time my friend Emma is finished with her Senior Thesis at Reed College, she will have spent an entire year exploring the Christianization of Scandinavia. Vikings and Latin translations. She will be an expert.

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