Medium 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. Medium Design offers spatial tools for innovation that challenge the authority of more familiar legal or economic declarations. Since political superbugs manipulating ideologies and political temperament run rings around singular solutions or singular evils, the book considers a spectrum of evils—capitalism, racism, whiteness, fascism, xenophobia and religious intolerance among them.
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.
Rehearsing this alternative habit of mind, a series of case studies consider atmospheric changes, explosive urban growth, reverse engineering abusive organizations, alternative land-holding organs, automation and migration among many other things. Special interludes puzzle over the additional activist techniques needed to outwit bullet-proof superbugs while 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
Hari Kunzru, "Complexity," Harpers January 2021. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/complexity-qanon-conspiracy-theories
David Tierren, "A Worldview that Seeks Complications Rather than Solutions" ArtReview April/May, 2021
LA Review of Books: Michael Osman, "Indirect Acts of History," May 27, 2021.
Reflection by AbdouMaliq Simone https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/5083-things-that-do-not-go-bang-in-the-night
TANK Magazine interview with Guy Mackinnon-Little: https://tankmagazine.com/tank/2021/03/keller-easterling
Interview with Ingrid Burrington on OneZerohttps://onezero.medium.com/how-to-design-better-systems-in-a-world-overwhelmed-by-complexity-1841f7c33615
This is Hell! https://soundcloud.com/this-is-hell/tih20210209
"Oblique Strategies for Reprogramming Design Space" https://archinect.com/features/article/150260316/keller-easterling-s-medium-design-oblique-strategies-for-reprogramming-design-practice
New Models podcast https://soundcloud.com/newmodels/ep-36-keller-easterling