Category Archives: Temporary Expert

Temporary Expert > Random Scenarios

The following images were prompted by a random phrase generator that I built to induce serendipity into some strange scenarios.

1. Destructive Geology for Women, Five years from now:
Geology on a global scale is scary; both volcanoes and earthquakes (and their aftermath) are uncanny in their power to destroy and disrupt life as usual. For this prompt I thought about harnessing the destructive power of Earth’s mechanics into tools of war or terrorism. In this scenario, an extreme feminist cell is disrupting patriarchal society through terraforming and terra-rism :D


2. Humorous Entertainment for Megafauna in Waterworld:
In this scenario, all of Earth’s ice caps have melted, leading to a massive global extinction. The survivors are the sea creatures, and megafauna like whales becomes Earth’s dominant race. For fun the world’s new overlords enjoy catching a Broadway show … on Broadway.



3. Transformative Self-Help for Hermits in a World in Decay
In this scenario I wanted to imagine what self-help would like in a world at war. In this scenario a box of supplies and literature is air dropped to a region desolated by war. How could manipulative outside intervention influence the mindset of a person in isolation?



4: Devastating Hobbies with Trees in a 1980s Mall
How many ways could we devastate a tree through hobby? This was the question I asked when I drew this series of words. Through discussion with my classmates, I stumbled upon the practice of birch tapping – boring into the artery of a birch tree to extract water. While seemingly innocuous, when anthropomorphized, it becomes grotesque. It made me think of interventions in trees that would slowly kill them, while granting people enjoyment.

5: Secretive Advertising for Service Animals in a Growth Economy
With this phrase, I thought about ways in which service animals could be manipulated to get their owner’s to buy things.

Temporary Expert > American Game Changers … the Game Show!



American Game Changers is a concept television game show for a major television network (iTen) in an alternate present day reality. The game is a cross between Cards Against Humanity, Pictionary, Shark Tank, and The Price is Right. Contestants are selected from the crowd at random.



Contestants are then given random prompts that consist of methods, tools, purpose, and contexts. Once the prompt is established, contestants have limited time to complete a rendering of a product that addresses the prompt.


After product ideas are generated, it’s time for the audience members to vote. The audience is split into two groups: consumers and executives. Consumers rate product ideas on desireability while executives rate product ideas on viability. The results are compiled into a graph to determine point totals and winners.


Pretty simple, huh?

Temporary Expert: Call for Indoor Spelunking Elements

Call for submissions

The Metropolitan Grotto of New York is seeking design proposals for indoor spelunking elements. With the spread of the destructive White Nose fungus disrupting our delicate underground ecosystems, new opportunities for adventure are needed. The Grotto will implement the designs to engage cavers sidelined by White Nose, allthewhile promoting the sport and recruiting new members.


Mr. Martinez,

It is with great pleasure that I present my design submission for the Met Grotto’s Indoor Spelunking Competition.

By introducing lightweight, structural obstacles into the workplace, my proposal seeks to capture the excitement of adventure embodied in the sport of spelunking.

The modern workplace is an incredible candidate for such elements as they present multiple opportunities to not only impact morale but bottom line, we’re talkin’ cents to the dollar.  Spelunking in the workplace can improve employee health both physically and mentally (thus lowering corporate health insurance premiums), facilitate valuable team building activities, and boost morale with the occasional adrenaline injection. Imagine arriving to the office each morning to find a new spelunking adventure awaiting you.

The designed elements are lightweight and reconfigurable and can be classified as furniture which need not observe the same rigid building codes as fixed architecture. However, the system is designed in a such a way that permanent installation is possible.

Please see the attached design images for your consideration.

Kind regards,

David Tracy






Temporary Expert 03 : Progress

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After spelunking through spelunking a bit longer, I’ve started to make some connections that weren’t necessarily apparent from the start, and I’ve begun to follow some tangents that are taking me on some exciting pathways.

Spelunking is first and foremost an act of discovery, in an old sense. It’s an act that embodies learning through experience but at the risk of incarceration, injury, or even death. There are several varieties, each demanding its own specialized equipment, talents, and acuities.  What I find most interesting in spelunking (not having spelunked … yet) is the way in which it exposes processes that are beyond our control or out of our sight; at a planetary scale, exposing tectonic mechanics or at an urban scale, shedding light on the infrastructure that sustains us.

Scale is an important part of it all. By embedding oneself below the surface of the planet or in the bowels of the city, human scale is reoriented in ways that it could not above the surface. Below the surface, we are reminded just how small we are. Below the surface, the world doesn’t accommodate us and the shape of our bodies. Below the surface, we can become something other than divine subjects. It’s not that we are rejoined with the ‘natural world’ but that we catch a glimpse of how we might fit into a system of unstable dynamics.

For instance, by exploring the sewers of New York, I can confront an enormous infrastructure that carries billions of gallons of sewage each day (see Radiolab’s Poop Train). The system is crucial to the health and functionality of the city and enables us to detach ourselves from our output. In the same way, that modern garbage disposal does the same thing; just send it off into the ether.

Enough of that. Another part of spelunking and exploring in general is the potential for real danger or repercussions. In the case of urban exploration, the danger lies at the intersection of urban chemical processes (deadly gases), geologic and weather events (rain and ground water swells), the legal system, and transportation to name a few. This week, I will be attending a meetUp for Cavers in the Lower East Side and I will be conducting an interview with Steve Duncan, and urban explorer.

These observations from research are helping me develop a lens through which to critically evaluate my project work. The primary guiding questions that I can ask myself:
How does this iteration expose connections to broader systems?
How does this design manage forces that seek to stop it’s implementation?

I’m moving forward with a couple concepts. One is development of the interior architectural spelunking elements. I’m interested in investigating how these elements can reorient the body’s relationship with built space and observing the kinds of questions that arise about usability, function, exclusion, safety, and aesthetics. [INSERT PHOTOS] The other concept that I would like to investigate more is the idea of developing prototypes for devices that enable urban explorers to more easily explore, document, share, and subvert danger. These could be simple sensor based devices that monitor water levels in distant sewer regions, or devices that provide counter-surveillance to watch for cops and trains.

Temporary Expert 02 : Building a Taxonomy and Crafting a Call for Spelunking

spelunkingMapSpelunking. Huh? What is that?

Shortly after asking the question, I learned that an equally important question might be “What is it not?”, because it’s certainly not the same thing as “caving”. More on that later.

With a subject as unfamiliar to me as spelunking, I began by identifying a few questions that I need to answer:
What the hell is it?
Where does it happen?
What kind of equipment does it require?
Who does it?

From these questions I was able to generate a series of sub-questions and start to reveal interdependencies and outside connections. I will be focusing on several of these questions to serve as a genesis for my exploration.

Question 1: What does it feel like?
As an exercise, I will explore the phenomenology of spelunking through manufactured experiences and (hopefully) an authentic one. I have begun designing interior spelunking artifacts to be inserted into buildings that can help simulate the experience. How can this be done without violating the life-safety integrity of a building? Should caves be regulated? Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams  features the oldest cave paintings yet discovered and recalls a time when a large portion of the human population may have lived exclusively in caves. How have the regulations changed?

Question 2: How has spelunking been represented in popular culture?

When I think of Spelunking in popular culture, I have very few references handy. Cliffhanger isn’t really about spelunking, it’s about mountain climbing, but I seem to remember a few fight scenes that take place in a cave. Horror based science fiction fantasizes about cannibalistic subterranean humanoids. Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock was a muppet based children’s show that took place deep under the Earth. What would a spelunking drama be like? How could it be performed on stage? I’d like to produce a short dramatic sketch about spelunking.

Question 3: What can spelunking teach us?
Aside from the exhilaration of terror and discovery, what can Spelunking teach us? What are researchers doing in caves? What is our military doing in caves? How can we forge a better understanding of our world by squeezing through the cracks and crevices of its bowels?

Question 4: Who does spelunking exclude? Who does it destroy?
Not everyone spelunks, it pervades complete popular consumption for a few reasons: not everyone has a cave nearby, not everyone can is able bodied enough to do it, not everyone can afford it. What does the spelunking demographic look like? What type of impact does spelunking have on the cave’s ecosystem? Is the cave a sterile wasteland to be exploited for enjoyment or does our leisure take a toll on a sensitive environment?

There are so many more questions that I have, but these are going to be the guiding questions as I go forward and prototype, interview, and adventure.