Volume V, 2018

Podcast – SynchroniCITIES: Episode One, Street Talk

Diana Duque

SynchroniCITIES: Episode One, Street Talk

The first in a hypothetical podcast series, SynchroniCITIES attempts to introduce listeners to exceptional stories of design which foster human connection in everyday life and throughout the urban fabric of American cities. The podcast’s first episode, “Street Talk,” transports the listener to the streets of Philadelphia, where testimonials of sidewalk psychiatry are revealed in an urban installation by the Taiwanese-American graphic designer, Candy Chang. Her mural titled “The Atlas of Tomorrow: A Device for Philosophical Reflection” promotes community connectedness by inviting pedestrians to interact with a six-foot mechanical dial. The mural’s 64 fables, inspired by the ancient Chinese divination text, the I Ching, prompt moments of introspection. The designer, who also has a background in urban planning, has been creating participatory public art projects for the past decade. In that time, she has explored the relationship between public space and mental health, the tensions between individual liberty and social cohesion, and the idea of the city as a space that exposes and fosters the individual and the collective psyche.

In the second half of Street Talk, a story of guerilla graphics from the 1990s is retold after more than twenty years by the artist known as TRUE. Formerly known as David John Riggins, TRUE discusses the strategies behind his “Life Instructions” via a Skype interview from his home studio in New Orleans. The series of non-permissional, site-specific public installations in the NY subway system exemplify what the Austrian graphic designer Stephan Sagmeister described in a 2007 TED conference as “design that can actually evoke happiness.”

SynchroniCITIES is the culmination of a semester’s worth of work in the Research and Methods class for the MA Design Studies Program at Parsons School of Design.


Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).

Candy Chang, “The Atlas of Tomorrow,” CandyChang.com, http://candychang.com/work/the-atlas-of-tomorrow/.

Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, http://dbhids.org/.

Amelia Foster, “Dialing for Wisdom,” ForecastPublicArt.org, February 6, 2017, http://forecastpublicart.org/public-art-review/2017/02/13615/,

Candy Chang, Pennsylvania Conference for Women 2014, October 21, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=sTfBfbmPghM.

Stephan Sagmeister, “Happiness by Design,” TED Talks, June 20, 2007, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZp-H9g_jeY,

TRUE, “Non-Permissional Site-specific Public Installation,” Trueart.biz, http://www.trueart.biz/cityarts/life_instructions.html.

Audio credits:

MF Doom, Daniel Dumile
Song: DOOM
Album: Figaro (2004)
no copyright infringement intended

Song: Dillatronic 09
Album: Dillatronic (2015)
no copyright infringement intended

Martha and the Vandellas
Song: Dancing in the streets (1964)
no copyright infringement intended

Badbadnotgood (BBNG)
Song 1: Lavender Instrumental (Ft. Kaytranada)
Album: BBNG IV (2016)
no copyright infringement intended

Song 2: Earl (Feat. Leland Whitty)
Album: BBNG 02 (2012)
no copyright infringement intended

Author Affiliations

Diana Duque
MA student, Design Studies, Parsons School of Design