How do we formulate alternative approaches to the world’s unresponsive or intractable dilemmas—from climate cataclysm to inequality to concentrations of authoritarian power? Easterling argues that the search for 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.
“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.”
“Easterling wants designers and architects and urbanists to think less about designing discrete things and more about ‘parameters for how things interact with each other.’”
“Medium Design actively works against popular culture’s hunger for simple solutions. While embracing a diversity of tactics for a diversity of crises, Easterling puts forward an expansive definition of ‘design’ that includes examples of systemic hacks like community land trusts and tactical refusals of market norms like social capital credits.”
“An insurgent energy and imagination crackle beneath the surface … this a hopeful and thrilling text.”
“Keller Easterling is a thinker intent on peering behind the veil to inquire into the forces and conditions that give rise to forms and spatial formations: the infrastructural, political, and financial milieux that softly but surely govern the production of architectural objects.”
“Easterling’s work turns reason’s cunning—and therefore the indirect acts of history—into a vibrant political theater for our age.”
“At its best, Medium Design reads a bit like Sun Tzu. It is calm and distant from the fray of disasters and conflicts that define our collective action or inaction in the midst of climate crises and failed globalization. Easterling’s voice tends toward the wise and poetic.”