For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

The Speed of Thinking Exhibition and Panel

Installation Shot, The Pearlstein Gallery, by Joelle Dietrick


February 18, 2019

The Center for Mobilities Research & Policy co-organized a panel discussion on February 13th, 2019 in association with the Pearlstein Gallery’s exhibition The Speed of Thinking. Showing work by North Carolina-based collaborative art team Joelle Dietrick and Owen Mundy, the show featured their game The Speed of Thinking, which involves players catching containers on a moving cargo ship, as rising sea levels begin to flood a city, while data on global trade in consumer goods from The Observatory of Economic Complexity scrolls by on the side.

With more than forty people in attendance, Drexel Mobilities Center Director Mimi Sheller, professor of sociology, led the panel discussion with artist Joelle Dietrick, Assistant Professor of Art at Davidson College; Frank J. Lee, Professor of Digital Media at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and founding director of the award-winning Entrepreneurial Game Studio; and Daniel Aldana Cohen, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (2018-19).

Topics of discussion included how can art and gaming engage us in thinking about climate change, consumerism, and global mobilities in new ways? Professor Sheller considered how this interactive digital artwork engages audiences in thinking about climate change in ways that might challenge either overly optimistic ecomodernization or the unduly passive nihilism of apocalyptic narratives of the Anthropocene. By pushing us into a more playful mode, are projects like these meant to be generative of different ways of imagining, narrating or designing the future? And how does the gaming element and public visualization help generate a sense of involvement?

Professor Lee pointed toward the public inclusiveness of largescale games, the joy of gaming as a way to draw people in, and the ways in which new game engines have “democratized” access to game creation and distribution. Professor Aldana Cohen discussed the energy consumed in freight shipping, and the more hopeful implications of the Green New Deal for changing largescale mobility systems, reducing energy consumption, and reassembling how we produce goods and infrastructures.

In attendance in the audience were graduate students from Professor Sheller’s Connected Mobilities Lab, who asked how Dietrick and Mundy planned and created the artwork. The class, which includes students in the Masters in Science Technology and Society, the Masters in Urban Strategy, and the doctoral program on Communication, Culture and Media, will be presenting their final projects on Connected Mobilities in Philadelphia at the Pearlstein Gallery on March 13th, 2019, from 6-8pm.