'The University District: Detroit Stories' & 'Sprawl'

Pitera, Allegra

My research interests combine teaching pedagogy and projects with my own work, primarily experimental video. As an educator as well as Director of Digital Media Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy, my pedagogical and personal interests lie in how to use media to incorporate inter-disciplinary studies; to use sound, images as well as visual and narrative compositions to communicate multi-dimensional ideas, passions and concepts. In relation to this inter-disciplinary approach, a large focus of the projects is examining and exploring the issues surrounding urban Detroit. I encourage my students to think of the D.J.‟s concept of 'mixing' as also an approach of digital media: of weaving together space, design, technology, story-telling and critical discourse. One of the concepts I try to reinforce is that 'space' includes and affects the psychological as well as the physical. In addition, I teach digital media students that 'design' is the intentional approach to choreograph the experiential and that digital technology is a tool for exploring these ideas. Accepting this, I challenge the students to consider: how does the user/viewer experience and process the interaction between digital media and the 'narrative' of the everyday? How can digital media reach out to the community and affect change?

Two of the texts I am currently considering for content contributions are: Richard Florida‟s “The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life” and Jane Holtz Kay‟s “Asphalt Nation”. I am interested in: how/why sprawl and our perhaps overdependence on the vehicle was intentionally constructed and how this life style has affected our urban cores; how our currently auto-centric culture might be shifting to embrace urban ideologies; how inter-disciplinary/”creative” professionals are changing our society; and if/how our local urban/suburban environments can attract people to move there, including skilled professionals.