Graduate Architecture

Keller Easterling: Medium Design

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 6:30pm
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Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, B1

On the flip side of dominant cultural logics, you would take a hard pass on emancipatory manifestos or aspirations to be new, free, radical or right. Being right is too weak. It doesn’t work against dangerous political superbugs. But maybe there is a very ordinary and practical perspective that has simply been eclipsed—a cultural blind spot that is right before you and a terra incognita where you have already been. Maybe there is no end or modernist succession but more middle or medius. On this flip side, it may be easier to see at a different focal length. Beyond declared ideologies is a matrix or medium of activities and latent potentials—the undeclared dispositions that are something like culture’s muscle memory. Just as medium thinking inverts the typical focus on object and matrix, maybe it can offer some alternative approaches to intractable problems that outwit the most cunning superbugs.

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer, professor, and director of the Master of Environmental Design program at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. Another recent book, Subtraction (Sternberg Press, 2014), considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. An ebook essay, The Action is the Form: Victor Hugo’s TED Talk (Strelka Press, 2012) previews some of the arguments in Extrastatecraft.

Other books include: Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) which researched familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world and Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999) which applied network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure.

Easterling is also the co-author (with Richard Prelinger) of Call it Home: The House that Private Enterprise Built, a laserdisc/DVD history of US suburbia from 1934–1960. She has published web installations including: Extrastatecraft, Wildcards: a Game of Orgman and Highline: Plotting NYC. Easterling’s research and writing was included in the 2014 Venice Biennale, and she has been exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the Rotterdam Biennale, and the Architectural League in New York. Easterling has lectured and published widely in the United States and abroad. The journals to which she has contributed include Domus, Artforum, Grey Room, Cabinet, Volume, Assemblage, e-flux, Log, Praxis, Harvard Design Magazine, Perspecta, and ANY.

This event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow.