Knowing How to Work on the World
Published by Verso, 2020
How do we formulate alternative approaches to the world’s unresponsive or intractable dilemmas, from climate change, to inequality, to concentrations of authoritarian power? Keller Easterling argues that the search for singular solutions is a mistake. Instead, she offers the perspective of medium design, one that considers not only separate objects, ideas and events but also the space between them. This background matrix with all its latent potentials is profoundly underexploited in a culture that is good at naming things but not so good at seeing how they connect and interact.
In case studies dealing with everything from automation and migration to explosive urban growth and atmospheric changes, Medium Design looks not to new technologies for innovation but rather to sophisticated relationships between emergent and incumbent technologies. It does not try to eliminate problems but rather put them together in productive combinations. And it offers forms of activism for modulating power and temperament in organisations of all kinds.
Keller Easterling speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about thinking in a world where ‘nothing works’, the paradoxical possibilities for solving concurrent problems, and the chances of winning games rigged by the Superbug.
Keller Easterling is a designer, writer, and the Enid Storm Dwyer Professor of Architecture at Yale. She is the author of Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014) and numerous other books and articles. Easterling was a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Architecture and Design, and the recipient of the 2019 Blueprint Award for Critical Thinking.