In Medium Design everyone is a designer. But 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—a spectrum of dangers from capitalism, racism, whiteness, fascism, and xenophobia.
From this perspective, solutions are mistakes and ideologies are unreliable markers. Rather than the modern desire for the new, there may be 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 alternative approaches, case studies consider alternative land-holding organs, reverse-engineering sprawl, technological interdependencies in transportation, and political diasporas with capacities for planetary solidarity.
Throughout, spatial tools for innovation and global decision-making are given as much authority as culture’s anointed digital, legal, and econometric assessments. Special interludes puzzle over the additional activist techniques needed to outwit bullet-proof superbugs. The activist espousing singular evils and singular solutions is an easy target for these powers. The activist maintaining a less predictable but no less resolute dissensus can keep power disoriented. They can begin immediately to deploy the most productive aspects of culture—the live community economies that do not respond to homo economicus—to overwhelm capital with spatial and dispositional forms of direct action.
’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
Translation: Spanish, Italian
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
Reflection by AbdouMaliq Simone https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/5083-things-that-do-not-go-bang-in-the-night
LA Review of Books: Michael Osman, "Indirect Acts of History," May 27, 2021.
TANK Magazine interview with Guy Mackinnon-Little: https://tankmagazine.com/tank/2021/03/keller-easterling
Interview with Ingrid Burrington on OneZero https://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
New Books Network https://newbooksnetwork.com/medium-design
Burren Peil, Brian Kinnee, Rebecca Michelson & Daniela K. Rosner
(2021): Medium Design: Knowing How to Work on the World, Design and Culture https://doi.org/10.1080/17547075.2021.1996823