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Arch wasiuta emilytaw spr23 06

Another Sad Day in America: The JonBenét Ramsey Research Institute for Forensic Conspiracy

In 1996, six-year-old beauty contestant JonBenét Ramsey was found murdered in the basement of her family’s Colorado home, sparking a nation-wide media frenzy.

The Ramsey home became an iconic symbol of white suburbia and acted as a stage for the unfolding of various conspiracy theories sparked by a public desire to participate in the case and a wide-spread sense that the idealized American lifestyle this family represented was under threat. The ruptured sphere of domesticity became an intimate site of damage in the cultural psyche, as Americans found themselves captivated by this American dream gone wrong.

America’s ongoing fascination with the case is deeply entangled with America’s imagination of itself. This project investigates both the crime and the culture that obsessed over it—focusing on the effects of media sensationalism, disinformation, and conspiracy theories on the American imagination.

The proposed JonBenét Ramsey Research Institute for Forensic Conspiracy wraps around a selection of forensically significant rooms throughout the Ramsey home. The design looks at the house as both a constellation of evidentiary scenes and an index of domestic life—operating as a pseudo forensic testing chamber that adopts a dollhouse logic wherein visitors activate different scenarios throughout the scene of the crime.