Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Ubiquitous Libidinal Infrastructures of Urbanism


Lauren Mitchell


Victor Vitanza

Document Type




Publication Date

Spring 2013


While studied in marketing and packaging design, big-box culture—generally thought of as sprawl—is often suppressed or ignored by the formal and technologically oriented strategies found within architectural design curricula. That is, resistance of big-box culture and market segmentation is typical within the field of architecture. This trans-disciplinary project brings rhetorical scholarship to bear on big-box culture with emphasis on design pedagogy. Doing so offers architects and urbanists an opportunity to design with more awareness about the ubiquitous, what drives it, and why its there. The project develops the concept of ubiquitous libidinal infrastructures, defined as the externalized (physical and/ or digital) manifestations of human desire-driven energy flows. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Orlando, Florida are used as primary subjects of investigation through which theories of Jean-François Lyotard and Gregory Ulmer are introduced into the field of urbanism. In turn, this material and spatial re-reading of Lyotard and Ulmer offers the field of rhetoric an important and timely access point into the field of urbanism. This project argues that deeper investigations of big-box culture require disciplinary invention and expansion.

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