The Berlage

Session Room K

Medium Design

Keller Easterling

At a moment of digital ubiquity, it may be easier to treat the data from digital platforms as primary in contemporary innovation and to believe that, if coated with sensors in an internet of things, the stiff, dumb world will suddenly become responsive and “smart.” But the heavy lumpy components of space are themselves information systems that don’t really need digital devices to make them dance. So, since architecture and urbanism are making radical changes to the globalizing world, space may be an underexploited medium of innovation. Like those media theorists who are returning to elemental understandings of media as surrounding environments of air, water, or earth, medium design uses a spatial medium to rehearse this habit of mind and prompt innovative thought about both spatial and non-spatial problems.

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer, and Professor of Architecture at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure, examines global infrastructure as a medium of polity. A recently published e-book essay titled Medium Design previews a forthcoming book of the same title. Medium Design inverts an emphasis on object and figure to prompt innovative thought about both spatial and non-spatial problems. Another recent book, Subtraction, considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. Histories of Things that Don't Happen and Don't Always Work is an essay collection, and The Action is the Form: Victor Hugo’s TED Talk is an e-book previewing some of the arguments in Extrastatecraft.

Her other books include Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades, which researched familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world; andOrganization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America, which applied network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure.Easterling’s MANY project, an online platform facilitating migration through an exchange of needs, was exhibited at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her research and writing on the floor comprised one of the elements in Rem Koolhaas's Elements exhibition for the 2014 Venice Biennale.

More events