University of Southern California Dreams of Revolutionizing Freeways

California cycleway, 1900. 


University of Southern California Dreams of Revolutionizing Freeways

By     Nov. 3, 2020

This is an edited blog post submitted as part of the Pando Days wrap-up from The University of Southern California (USC). We asked the USC team to reflect on their Pando Days experience and let us know what’s happened since the July Finale. 

The initiative we developed for Pando Days was a bit wacky and a ton of fun, and helped us actually explore new territory in site-specific work. 

We called our project, “Car Sick” — a site-specific workshop developed to be played while traveling the famed Pasadena Freeway.  We hoped to help people become more mindful of time behind the wheel.  

Since the project premiere and Finale at Pando Days, we’ve received positive feedback from both the judges as well as on the Internet.

This has inspired new ideas for Car Sick specifically, even if the core question stays the same: How might we design site-specific workshop experiences to better engage people with their immediate environment? 

Originally, we saw the project as a board game, but now I’m more interested in going all-in on the site-specific workshop idea that Car Sick prototyped. There are lots of possibilities.

Site-specific work of any kind is work that not only takes its environment fully into account, but can only be done at that place. Car Sick, for instance, really needs to be played on the 110 Freeway.  

But if we expand the concept, for example, what would a workshop that could only take place at the Santa Monica beach entail? Or some random bathroom at a strip mall? A bookstore? Learning from Car Sick, I’m fascinated by the way a simple set of instructions can alter the way we see a place and our relationship to it.

I’d like to explore other environments for workshops.

While I do not have any concrete plans at the moment for expanding the site-specific workshop idea, I’m leaning toward a bookstore in Pasadena, the 4th Street Bridge in Downtown Los Angeles, or possibly the Sunset Strip.

My next steps are to choose new locations, and start researching what simple workshops of some 30 to 45 minutes each might look like. Stay tuned! 

Over the past decade as a workshop designer, I’ve facilitated hundreds of events and experiences across the globe. Car Sick was my most challenging workshop design project. The added variables of working in a moving vehicle and traffic’s effect on timing made it challenging and fun. I learned valuable new techniques for workshop design that I’ll carry with me.

I’ll look back at my hours editing the Car Sick film fondly. It brought me great joy during a very challenging time. I’ll always remember the test runs we did pre-pandemic, It was a pleasure to make that film, and to be given license to be silly.

I’m also grateful we did those test runs early, when we could still cram people into a car without concern! 

If you’re interested in Los Angeles and history, please reach out. Site-specific work is a way to engage with local history, as opposed to simply read about it. And once we have workshop curriculum designed, I will certainly want people to give it a test-drive.

While Car Sick was not designed for social distancing, our next iterations of site-based workshops will. So please consider joining us as a “test dummy” for some of the strange installments.

I welcome peoples’ help in the next installments.  

For more info:

·   Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ivGT3fzJZg&feature=emb_title

·   Curriculum: https://gumroad.com/l/carsick

Matthew Manos is Assistant Dean for Academic Strategy and Assistant Professor for Teaching, Design, at the Iovine and Young Academy at USC, and founder of the design strategy practice, verynice.