In Medium Design everyone is a designer. But the approach to design inverts the typical focus on object over field, to work on the medium—the matrix space between objects, events and ideological declarations. And it disrupts some habitual modern approaches to the world’s intractable dilemmas—from climate cataclysm to inequality to concentrations of authoritarian power. In a series of case studies dealing with everything from automation and migration to explosive urban growth and atmospheric changes, Medium Design offers spatial tools for innovation that challenge the authority of more familiar legal or economic declarations.
From this perspective, solutions are mistakes and ideologies are unreliable markers. Rather than the modern desire for the new, designers find more sophistication in relationships between emergent and incumbent technologies. Encouraging entanglement, medium design does not try to eliminate problems but rather put them together in productive combinations. And special interludes puzzle over bullet-proof powers, a Kubrick movie, ISIS recruits, literary characters, and iconic activists in the hopes of outwitting political deadlocks and offering forms of activism for modulating power and temperament in organizations of all kinds.
’This book spans the globe with a learned, wise, and ethical eye. It is an inventory of resources for finding hope amid the wreckage and potential among the problems. With pragmatist creativity it shows how dumb our smart solutions can be. Medium design is a vaccine against the superbugs of environmental degradation, economic inequity, and political fascism.’
John Durham Peters, author of Promiscuous Knowledge
‘In a time, when one cannot wait for definite answers, Easterling brilliantly proposes a protocol to work on resilience in the interim. This might include unbuilding, reworking, ungrowing and rearticulating. Medium Design not only describes these protocols. It actually puts them into practice.’
Hito Steyerl, author of Duty Free Art
’Easterling is one of our most provocative theorists of infrastructures and the critical actions that might make them better. Here she gives us ways to remix, radically, their ingredients. Who else could parse the “canine mind” of the canny designer and city-dweller to show that we already know how to break the deadlock formed by binaries and manipulative media loops? Read this immensely engaging book to find a new toolkit for infiltrating, occupying, and recasting the mediated and material world.’
Caroline A Jones, Professor in the Department of Architecture, MIT
Cover Design: Ayham Ghraowi