the new normal

on strelka site:

Strelka Institute for architecture, media and design launched the enrollment campaign for the postgraduate education program. The theme of the 7th academic year at Strelka is The New Normal.

Research will focus on the new contemporary condition, which has emerged because of the rapid development of technology — including machine intelligence, biotechnology, automation, alternative spaces created in VR and AR — and define new paths for urban design and development.

The multidisciplinary programme at Strelka in 2016/17 is designed not only for experts in media, architecture, design and urbanism. In addition, this year Strelka invites young specialists from Russia and abroad who work in creative industries (artists, scenarists, writers, filmmakers), and other fields like software studies, digital media, social sciences, etc.


Varvara Melnikova, Director of the Strelka Institute:

“Strelka Institute has always been a think-tank for modern research, innovations and shaping a new discourse and models: we have been examining public spaces, citizens as consumers, urban routines and the agents of changes when their roles were to be shaped. Now we witness the need to define the outcome of the process, when technologies influence our demand to urban environment and our habits to a greater extend than even political decisions. Within The New Normal we strive to develop an effective dictionary of the contemporary era and define the processes which have changed us, but have not been articulated. The future is where we will live, but first we need to catch up to the present”.

Benjamin H. Bratton, new Education Program Director at Strelka Institute, is an American sociologist and architectural theorist. Bratton is a Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego, where he has become Tenured Professor and developed a program on speculative design. The number of students has multiplied 3.5 times in the last year. He is also former Director of the Advanced Strategies Group at Yahoo!, author of numerous books on design, computational media and infrastructures. His book The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty has become a bestseller in MIT Press in 2016.

Bratton is currently working on a new research project on theory and design in the era of machine intelligence. He studies how artificial intelligence in its different forms (from computer vision to synthetic cognition) changes the traditional design approach.

Benjamin H. Bratton about The New Normal:

“Have our technologies advanced beyond our ability to conceptualize and describe their implications? If so, such a gaps can be perilous. In response, one impulse is to pull the emergency brake, and to try to put all the genies back in all the bottles. This is ill-advised (and hopeless).

Better instead to invest in emergence, in contingency, in designation: to map the New Normal for what it is, and to shape it toward what it should be.

let’s try.. a nother way

That is what we strive to in the coming academic year”.

In addition to Bratton, Lev Manovich, .. Liam Young, ..


Compared to the traditional approach in design, which is focused on finding one fixed solution for a specific problem and optimizing the existing tasks, speculative design encourages designers to work with uncertain scenarios of the future and to invent something unpredictable and shape it in an extraordinary manner. Speculative design is not only the way of designing an object or a solution, but also the way to shape an idea and express it in an original manner.


intro’d to the new normal here by Benjamin:


Moscow is freezing but sunny.. seminar for The New Normal program at Strelka starts Monday


New text in which I extend the Post-Anthropocene thesis to Anthropogeny/ Anthropolysis

Anthropogeny is the study of human origins, of how something that was not quite human becomes human. It considers what enables and curtails us today: tool-making and prehensile grasp, the pre-frontal cortex and abstraction, figuration and war, mastering fire and culinary chemistry, plastics and metals, the philosophical paths to agricultural urbanism and more.1 Given that Darwinian biology and Huttonian geology are such new perspectives, we may say that Anthropogeny, in any kind of scientific sense, is only very recently possible.


in what ways is a post-Anthropocene—a geo-historical era to come, eventually— aligned with Anthropolysis—or the inverse of Anthropogeny—a becoming inhuman, posthuman, unhuman, or at least a very different sort of human?


Not that the autocrats care, but it is not only the Alexander Dugins of the world who counter technoscientific rationalism with a new mysticism, a revived indigeneity/nativism, and a suspicious anti-materialism. The “Left” has its own Heideggerians, anti-universalists, and champions of spooky tribal intuition as well.


The means by which we get outside our prejudicial intuitions about how the world works may also be the means by which we undermine the ecological substrate of the world, and vice versa.

As I and others have written, the reason we know that climate change is even happening at the nuanced degrees that we do is because of the measurement capacities of terrestrial, oceanic, atmospheric sensing meta-apparatuses that are at least representative of an industrial-technological system whose appetite is significantly responsible for the changes being measured in the first place.


By pursuing the illusion as if it were true, we discovered, as a by-product, that it was false, but the by-product of doing so is that we made it true.


If as in Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, the surface of the planet’s ocean was sentient, the planet Earth’s strategy toward sentience includes layered networks of neurons in the folded grey matter of animal brains, particularly but not exclusively the cerebral cortex of primates, namely humans.

We are, as Nikolai Fedorov wrote a century ago, the medium through which the planet thinks.

holmgren indigenous law

human nature

human\e constitution

We, the Earth’s digestive residue, were able to discover and know the planet’s own duration (quite impressive seeing as how for most of our existence, we thought that the planet ran on our time!) Was this project, in which the Earth formulated from itself a biochemical intensity (aka humans) capable of knowing how old it is, worth the cost? A Faustian bargain to top all: was discovering this fundamental truth worth exhuming hundreds of millions of years of pre-Mesozoic biomatter for a two-century fuel supply and inauguration of mass extinction? I asked my students if they thought it was worth it. They were split. Maybe the better question would have been, “what would make it worth it?” Must the accomplishment of a Copernican epistemic disenchantment destroy, or at least threaten, that which it knows; or is it only provisional damage that will make for a more durable relationship between knower and known?


For Zerzan, the answer is clearly “no, the Copernican insight is not worth it.” Almost no knowledge is worth damaging or even disturbing Holocenic equilibrium, certainly not mere astronomic self-awareness. For Zerzan, it is abstraction itself, or what he calls “symbolic thought,” that is the root of domination, from agriculture to governments. (From such depths, deep ecological misanthropy, anarchist theories of spontaneous cooperation, the sophistries of anti-rationalist gurus and a motivated Foucauldian suspicion of disciplinary knowledge find common cause, however dubious.)At another end of the spectrum (closer to where I sit), others would say that it is and was worth it, or could still be made to have been worth it.

what if it’s both

They may counter that, just as early protozoa, wiggling their cilia in the bubbling primordial curry, mapped their surroundings to figure out friend, food and foe, so too do Anthropocenic species carry forth cosmic tasks: to form function into abstraction and back again, and for matter to cohere into meta-cognition. Further, abstraction through goal-oriented models of the world is not only what intelligence is, but it’s built into matter itself. Rather than something that sets humans apart, humans are the medium of its accomplishment. The project remains then not to escape the human like an old skin, but rather to (re)design its parameters, what its always-already unstable threshold contains and is contained by. That design project works not just on the individual unit, but on what the collective is and may be; what it organizes and according to what patterns, (other than settler colonialism, legacy genomes and bronze age myths): what free migrations and Galapagos effects, what charter polities, charter stacks and charter geographies?

And so what then? If the Anthropocene binds social time to planetary time, then let the former scale up to the latter, not the latter down to the former. With maximum demystification, make human economies operate according to the geologic scale we found hiding under the rocks.

holmgren indigenous law

eagle and condor ness

This inversion of the temporal binding we have is a good definition of the Post-Anthropocene we need, and the inversion of the humanist position and perspective it would require is the Anthropolysis we want.


presentation at strelka – sept 1 2016 – with Lev Manovich

12 min – our plan.. something has shifted.. one response is to put all genies back in bottle.. better to invest in emergence..  and shape toward what it should be.. move away from language of the hybrid..

14 min – in short term.. hybrids make sense.. but .. in long term.. language of hybrids creates confusion/fear.. so away from hybrid.. to design of the new normal..

15 min – so with what language can we define all this.. what do words like politics/identity/human/architecture/organic/citizen/home/natural/progressive.. what do these words mean anymore.. rather.. do the words describe what’s actually happening.. and if not..

at what point does the gap between our language and what it needs to explain become so wide that we move on to new terms..

16 min – if that is now.. then our assignment is to design a more effective glossary of the present.. can we compose it fast enough..

20 min – the speculative is not supplemental to serious work of remaking the city.. it’s our responsibility in this moment of change/uncertainty.. only by mapping new normal and modeling what’s possible can we hope to realize what’s preferable..

21 min – content

1\ new normal.. what is most normal is what is most strange.. ie: energy..can we build fast enough to save us from cost of building..

2\ pattern recognition.. first describe/know what want to change.. but intuition deceptive.. we’re a pattern recognizing species.. but comes at price of false pos/neg

27 min –

3\ synthetic sensing…ie: ar.. biocentric tools.. et al.. shift boundaries of inside/outside

29 min –

4\ speculative mega structures.. can’t enact another till we model it.. ie: scenario planning.. digital cinema…  liam young..

30 min – interested in areas of form.. but also areas of protocols.. forms.. …we’re all looking for mechs that may produce unexpected cause/effect.. but

perhaps we’re measuring all the wrong things..

self-talk as data – diff input

perhaps our game theories and legal fictions.. special zones.. are poorly disposed to a zero marginal cost platform economics .. or maybe not.. if so.. then

treating symptoms only as exceptions to the rule.. instead of reasons to make new rules.. to see new patterns.. recognize new normal.. may only make things worse..

31 min – the alternative is for design to use its essential craftiness/cunning/critique.. to draw that new normal… keller easterling.. prof at yale will drive this part

5\ field trip to ca..

32 min

6\ platform design.. design outcomes.. mix .. strategies for communication.. to turn audience into users/collabers.. platform not reducible to politics.. we look then for new vision of what they can be.. a drama of revelation and secrecy.. stating plainly and telling stories.. how to say what remains true.. because it’s more true than true.. like hiding in plain sight..  amsterdam design studio

34 min – students.. comfortable w/counter intuitive.. work with conventional and unconventional..

35 min – outcomes.. descriptive/predictive/prescriptive models..

37 min – looking for students.. comfortable w ambiguity.. interested in designing a new kind of design practice

38min – new glossary.. hopefully one of most important outcomes.. interested in people who don’t fit into regular categories..

39 min – design in relation to constraints.. arguably.. design does best not in relation to blank page.. but in reaction to emergencies..that demand demand.. that conventional practices cannot stand.. and that we simply have to find new ways.. and in this .. the *most unusual path may prove to be also the most practical..

*a nother way book – 33 min a day for 2 convos.. unusual.. practical..

40 min – we may take an emergency.. to mean a state of exception.. or we may take it to mean a kind of emergence.. a new normal.. we place our bets with emergence.. and we have many emergencies.. take your pick.. 1\ shared eco emergency.. we dive into messy/planetary bio chemistry.. in which we swim..  2\ allegiance/alignment/org emergency.. power never only exists where it seems to exist.. it’s also a matter of presentation/story-telling…universality not tied to local of west only.. actually universal… 3\ networks of finance/value/exchange emergency.. what is worth what to whom/when.. how much value is there

emergence via indigenous us

41 min – so.. pick your emergency.. and design with what makes it emergent.. not because future is guaranteed.. but because it’s not.. fuller: utopia or oblivion.. touch and go to last moment..

42 min – to see things new.. for what they are.. will require *both.. our most powerful tech and our most intense/adventurous imagination.. the future is where we will live/grow.. but first need to catch up to the present..

eagle and condor

49 min – lev: article … avant garde as software.. the old media van garde.. came up with new ways to see world..

53 min – lev: data that can present millions of maps.. and how to use multi mapping to create new design practice

1:01 – lev: computers don’t give you answers.. they actually give you more questions..

1:03 – convo between the two..

1:04 – benjamin to lev.. interested in this term you called image centric representation

lev: lots of data..? we don’t have any data.. we have a lot.. but we have nothing.. how to not rely on data simply because there’s lots of it

again.. let’s focus on diff data.. self-talk as data – diff input

1:06 – b: machine vision… self portraits.. strangeness of seeing ourselves thru this other mech..   l: bizarre yes.. but also middle class conventional.. designed by conventional algos… but can’t recognize poetry/clouds.. so not dealing with neutral knowledge.. but knowledge that is constructive for particular purposes.. so in a way like.. hire a person that’s not like you.. bring back strange labels..

1:07 – b: that’s exactly what it is.. what’s interesting is not that it’s bad at seeing the way we see but that it’s good in seeing in a very different kind of way…. like google deep dream.. seeing world thru eyes of this other mech.. in ways which we never would have thought possible..

1:08 – q&a

1:09 – q: personal interest in new language.. a: b: we can say new things with a new language.. when so many new things appear.. the kind of poetry/sentences/ideas.. held back if don’t have vocab.. the opposite of reducing the glossary..   l: i want students to forget.. they are architects/designers.. ie: you know programming..? of course not i’m an architect.. i want people to forget.. to say that.. so basically.. de professionalize.. make professional amateurs.. professional explorers..

1:13 – b: value of sci fi.. describe future in ways we can’t.. putting things into future is a bit of an alibi..allows for a deference.. that exactly describes present in ways we may not have done so before..  we’re not only interested in sci fi as predictive model.. but perhaps more as a descriptive model.. and also as a projective model.. what should/shouldn’t be.. not predict them but to make arguments normative/ethical about these in this way..

1:16 – q: will new normal be related w wisdom  a: b: by increasing quantity of info.. doesn’t tell us anything true/significant about anything we want to find.. wisdom.. depends on how we define this.. i would define as deeper understanding of world.. of cause/effect.. that go beyond intuitive.. getting past intuitive ways.. inventive techs of cognitive extension that have allowed us to get around those intuitives.. the big data techniques… in best sense.. allow us to get around limitations of intuitive..  not only beyond.. but temporal.. individual and collective.. but.. in no way is that built into the tech.. it’s something that we need to develop .. in how we use tech and demands we make upon it..

l: going fro data to knowledge.. is a dangerous idea.. this idea.. a guidebook to make smart cities..  computer doesn’t need that..  we have no idea how it’s doing that .. we just have to trust it..


1:21 – q: how to combine design and geo politics   a: b: a lot of what book – stack – is addressing.. for both good/bad .. effects of planetary scale computation is a shift in how publics are produced.. that challenges jurisdictions of west fallian state.. late 17th cent.. not just saying .. ok now have computer so state is being virtualized away.. not a virtualization of borders.. but a multiplication of borders.. *map on a map on a map.. all making claims.. rather than deep border line… so each space.. claimed by mult at same time… to see this as the new normal.. and as a design problem.. design needs to understand ramifications at global level.. not only about relationship of one user/object.. this is just a tiny sliver of what design is about.. claims must be much/much larger.. because implications are much larger..

*like standing on shoulder of giants.. like trail of association.. can’t attribute/border..

1:25 – q: practical part..?  a: b: several projects.. work they develop at beginning becomes basis they will further they develop in 2nd module.. and then 3rd.. et al.. discover to prototyping to design development.. a lot of methodologies will be scenario driven.. system is that they will all add up into a mosaic of work..

l: we will do something no one else has done.. rather than copy.. leap over..

for (blank)’s sake

1:29 – q: motto?  a: b: dispute plan to prevent future luxury constitution… a constitution that guarantees luxury.. and there’s something to keep us from that.. so we have to dispute that   l: do better.. the road is super complex.. don’t try to simplify it.. deal with complexity..

crowd so interesting.. ladies have bright colored blankets on them.. man asking question holding small dog..


sept 30 2016 – 2 hr hangout on the new normal – starts at 11 min

16 min – theme of new normal

20 min – scenarios.. analytical data into projective.. how can we rep it..

24 min – design research with a more speculative input.. an argument for speculative design but against designed futures… instead of in the year say 2050… how we design 2050 is based on what we do now.. it’s not really the future.. how can we expand the temporal/historical scope… longer term thinking allow for more durable/stronger/practical decisions… toward a better common framework…

26 min  – anthropocene.. since begin of industrial revolution.. human enterprise has effected such permanent terms on our ecosystem.. new era named after human… be looking at.. the russian context for this.. no realistic way to talk about transformation..what it means to be human.. w/o thinking in a longer time span

29 min – so quite pragmatic in a diff of big trends in design practices.. ones interested in clients who are thinking more long term..

32 min – on future as now as to history.. past/present/future.. more of a continuity .. less a sequence and break..

39 min – on ethics.. for whom are such projects designed.. primary question.. who we are that is doing this… who is the anthropos.. the human..

40 min – part of using.. new normal… is need for new language to describe on new terms.. but also.. new normatives..

41 mni – site conditions quite specific to moscow/russia… faculty global.. the specific russian context.. raise universal questions..

44 min – trip to usa.. after 2/3 way thru program… to expose.. take out.. create a microcosm.. that creates own vocab/language/measures/common sense.. an escape philosophy.. then take this little world and pull out of location and put into another context… has to come in contact w very different context..

locales in ca:

1\ focus on science and design – living systems… my lab

2\ focus on media and design – fictional reps..  up coast.. institute of architecture

3\ focus on software and design – san fran tech co’s

fractal ness.. zoom dance ness..

partly to de mystify ca a bit.. then when head back.. will hopefully see moscow diff as well

49 min – interest in blockchain and econ as a design practice… how mechs in media and tech that support that can be remade.. econ itself has increasingly become a design discipline..

51 min – post capitalism (or whatever) and IT in the city… automation and/of ai and implications to labor – liam – thru work of some of accelerationist theorists… interest of a leftist bent.. how automation may potentially provide for econ where less work done by people … socialism more based on other things.. than buying/selling labor..  a leftist case for automation.. unclear which way any of this goes..

55 min – question of what a society looks like .. when people are free to play.. goes both extremes.. in poverty can’t play

1:01 – interlacing of it and urban.. less a hybrid and more a norm..

vr systems we’ll be using..

1:05 – adam curtis – journalism allowed to go bigger/smaller than before.. ie: twitter.. squished to 140.. video streaming sites.. several hours long.. looking at how journalism can draw that out..

1:10 – for a long part of history data was scarce.. libraries.. unis around libraries.. et al.. now.. opposite problem.. instead of data so rare.. it’s drinking form firehose.. figuring out what it means.. patterns.. beyond mechanical/cog capacities of our little brains.. so every question we ask.. we have to ask another of the data in order to make sense of it.. summarizing answer to first question.. i think that is part of the new normal…

1:12 – just like telescope and microscope helped us see world at scale we could never see/understand.. big data tools allow us to see patterns.. we could never deduce otherwise.. getting outside our intuitive understanding..

zoom dance ness..

1:21 – why in russia.. based on moscow for 7-8 yrs.. interest in focusing/continuing on.. russian context..  interest in contradictions/complexities in russian context.. esp ones that have gen/universal lessons for us

1:33 – careful.. our interest in emerging tech is as conceptual as technical.. how do they challenge/provoke thinking as well as how enable our doing.. focus on temporary condition..  which is not separable from econ/tech context..  tech is not being engaged with as a panacea or for its own sake.. as something we need to engage with .. learn how to think with.. even against conventional ways techs are used in order to remake.. what new normal should be

1:40 – interest more urbanism than cities.. urban include all .. but also all flows/networks.. of people/goods/info.. material/cultural flows.. that make that city into a vibrant cultural/econ space.. interest on this more comprehensive notion of the urban… includes things we recognize as cities.. but might think of city as medium..  you don’t have urbanism w/o cities… the question of what kinds of cities we want are.. who gets to live there.. what relationship between public/private is.. all these things are up for grabs..

1:41 – this question of the new normal is a second phase of what went into the stack.. what is the stack to come.. what do we want.. what can we replace this with.. not just describing cities we have.. but what cities will there be…

1:42 – my hope: one issue .. how cities function as kind of distributed infrastructure of global context.. larger geo design project… the real site division we scale is planetary.. not urban/national..not something we can cordon off.. the interconnectedness of our shared condition is one we still have a hard time building into our social/econ design discussions.. so goes back to our fundamental question of when/where/who we are.. fuller.. past/present/future.. a thick now..

nationality: human ness.. all of us ness

1:45 – our human culture has geological effects.. already part of cultural transformation/operation.. ..other side:  there’s a tendency to prioritize human experience of human experience as primary..  getting outside of intuitive experience.. ie: what kind of cities could we make if we had this more pragmatic view


webinar q&a #2 – oct 2016





In which I have a new piece “Can the Bot Speak?” On conversational UI


across & beyond A @transmediale Reader on Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions…

can’t find.. can the bot speak.. found this:

Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution – dec 2015,month%20DESC


Benjamin H. Bratton’s kaleidoscopic theory-fiction links the utopian fantasies of political violence with the equally utopian programs of security and control. Both rely on all manner of doubles, models, gimmicks, ruses, prototypes, and shock-and-awe campaigns to realize their propagandas of the deed, threat, and image. Blurring reality and delusion, they collaborate on a literally psychotic politics of architecture.


pretty sure read this.. but adding here too


find/follow the new normal:

link facebook

‘The New Normal frames not just cities and their relationship to information technologies but (even more) of emergent economics, politics, and cultural norms: a multipolar Anthropocenic precipice, unfolding crises of authority (too much, too little), genomic flows and flux and fundamentalisms, financial melodramas, and a videogame-like geopolitics full of hidden trapdoors and easter eggs.’ (Benjamin Bratton)

from fb about page:

The theme of the 7th academic year at Strelka is The New Normal and the research will focus on the new contemporary condition, which has emerged with the rapid development of technology, including machine intelligence, biotechnology, automation, and alternative spaces created in VR and AR, and define new paths for urban design and development. But conditions around which we organize this effort are not just technological, they are also philosophical and theoretical.

At what point does the gap between what the words like “identity”, “human“, “architecture,” “citizen”, “modern”, “progressive”, “natural” mean and what is happening become so wide that we should move on to new terms? We need to design a more effective glossary of the present. Can we do it fast enough?

To learn more about the programme and apply visit Application deadline is November 6, 2016.

The multidisciplinary programme at Strelka in 2016/17 is designed not only for experts in media, architecture, design and urbanism. In addition, this year Strelka invites young specialists from Russia and abroad who work in creative industries (artists, scenarists, writers, filmmakers), and other fields like software studies, digital media, social sciences, etc.

Strelka traditionally enrolls 30 international students with free tuition and stipend of 39 000 rubles monthly. The Programme runs for 5 months from February 2017 to July 2017. Minimum age required is 25 years old. Working language is English. Students will learn the methods of creative interdisciplinary urban research, speculative design, scenario planning and ideation , digital technologies, critical thinking, platform design, prototyping, urban and social media data gathering and analysis.

Core Programme Faculty:

Benjamin H. Bratton, new Education Programme Director at Strelka Institute is a famous sociological, media, design theorist and author based in California. Bratton is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design at the University of California, San Diego. He founded the school’s new Speculative Design undergraduate major. In his recently published book “The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty” (MIT Press, 2016) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. As one of the most important global design theorists, Bratton brings an extraordinarily interdisciplinary scope to Strelka’s research.

Lev Manovich, well-known digital media theorist, expert in new mediae author of a famous book ‘The Language of New Media’ and director of the Software Studies Lab that uses methods from computer science, media design and humanities to analyze big cultural data such as millions of Instagram images, Liam Young — an architect and futurologist, who operates in spaces between design, fiction, and cinematic futures.
Metahaven — a famous Amsterdam-based studio for design, research and art founded by graphic designers and writers Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk and Keller Easterling, architect, writer and professor at Yale university.

The program will include thematic modules:

The New Normal
Students will examine the challenges posed by emerging technologies but the forms of speculative urbanism we will explore have to do with shifting boundaries between human, society, system, and ecology.

Pattern Recognition
In this module students will learn new techniques in quantitative and qualitative analysis, data visualization, and cultural analytics.

Synthetic Sensing
The module is about several new design technologies, including virtual /augmented reality, biosensing, and 3D scanning.

Speculative Megastructures
Science-fiction often anticipates things before they arrive. The lesson is that we cannot enact another urbanism before we imagine it and model it. This module will explore potential urban futures, from the metabolisms of global flows to infrastructure scale robotics, and how 21sth century modernity will be shaped by how cities rise to common challenges.

Field trip: California
California’s economy is the 6th largest in the world, a hub for flows of influence across the world, and it is home to a diverse cultures of innovation: literary, scientific, cinematic, culinary, musical as well as technological. California is a good example to carry out a research on different cultures of design, based on scientific research of media and software.

Platform Design
The design outcomes of the programme will mix traditional and emerging forms of design and media to reset the terms of the urban discussion. In this module will learn strategies for the development and communication of design projects as speculative urban platforms, incorporating branding, user experience, narrative, irony, paradox and sleight-of-hand to turn audiences into users, developers, believers, collaborators. Here urban futures move from fiction into prototype


Shannon Mattern

wild city of ants

(stigmergy ness) – self-organizing.. et al


via benjamin rts

Sascha Pohflepp (@plugimi) tweeted at 11:57 PM – 18 Feb 2017 :

So happy to have spent a week w/ super-talented students, @detectiveyes & @julietaaranda in @bratton’s New Normal at @strelkaschool (

armen avanessian (@aavarmen) tweeted at 4:55 AM – 19 Feb 2017 :

#xenoarchitecture #accelerationism #xenofeminism @archinect @MarkusMiessen @SternbergPress @bratton @AestheManag (

xeno architecture.. politics of alienation

..prefix ‘xeno’ opens up a whole spectrum of possibilities where it becomes possible to think of other futures that surpass what we take for granted, what we think as normal, as ‘natural’. The alienation our society produces becomes, in that way, not something to fear but something we can build on. How can we imagine this ‘alienation’?


How do we start thinking about solutions when it’s impossible to even truly capture the problem?

maté basic needs.. as problem deep enough to get to root/soul of all


This ‘alienation’, or ‘othering’ is an inhuman thinking that transcends linearity of time; it is central to the xenofeminist manifesto and has a tremendous global political urgency in the current Brexit/Trump-era. What we take away from studying these discourses is that the options are simple: either we become/stay xenophobic (which corresponds to a nostalgic or fearful call for retreat) or, by starting to speculate about the as-yet-unknown and acknowledging global complexity, we embrace the xeno.

chaos.. fractal ness..entropy ness

Since postmodernism,*grand narratives and ideologies have been regarded with fear and suspicion. This aversion to the all-encompassing view has led to the advent of “short stories,” focusing on particularities, subjectivity and critical (self)-reflection. However, when, on the one hand, our problems are getting more substantial and complicated every day and, on the other hand, our answers need to be nuanced, modest and self-critical at all times, we cannot but acknowledge facing a disastrous discrepancy. It is therefore not sufficient to expand our current imagination on an individual level only. Precisely, Reed asks, how can we collectively reorientate from “what is” toward “what could be”? We believe there is a need to develop what Dutch philosopher Thijs Lijster calls “Tall Stories” that can function as new collective horizons and imaginaries.

*fitting w seth post – and avoidance of all


The idea of the Commons seems to me to resonate more with the folk political paradigm. Despite Stavros Stavrides’ efforts, there is still a clear connection to a moment, or a series of breaks (primitive accumulation), which inaugurated a violent separation of people from their communal livelihood via the introduction of capitalist wage labour. *Commoning practices tend to suggest a return to pre-capitalist practices rather than an embrace of new techno-possibilities. How do you reconcile that?


*a nother way.. eagle and condor ness

We believe that what is being sought through a definition of “xeno-architecture” is not incompatible with practices of commoning, but indeed we definitively reject such typical folk political tendencies that end up into nostalgic or territorial retreat, quite paradoxically excluding rather than assembling.

Our project precisely started with a critique towards what Srnicek and Williams call “folk politics.” When it comes to the translation of political engagement into the spatial realm and spatial practice, resistance against authority has been directed towards local and direct actions, and horizontal, transparent and participatory practices. Examples are countless, from the occupation of vacant buildings, the construction of D.I.Y. shelters, to local urban farming initiatives and citizen’s committees. Some have proven effective in advancing social cohesion in urban neighborhoods or modifying legal norms in favor of inhabitants and fragile minorities; however, ever since these well-intentioned practices got incremented in the 1960-70’s, their radicalism and political potential has decreased, while their actions have more and more been absorbed by the system they sought to resist.



challenges won’t be tackled if restricted to re-installing factories within the city.

We emphasize the ‘re’ because this displays our point of critique. Instead of searching for manners of developing society in ways we can hardly imagine today, the project looks back at what was once working, puts it in a contemporary jacket and presents it as the ideal solution.

huge..  begs a global do-over.. one that perpetuates we begin again.. everyday..

changing policy ness for the birds

This is why within our project we aim to investigate the possibility of radically different forms of knowledge production.

perhaps time for a xeno architecture (of knowing) to match


We do not aim at re-aligning with a system that once supposedly proved its effect and for which the existing infrastructures would need to be smashed in order to be implemented, but rather choose, as Srnicek and Williams also suggest in their manifesto, to use society in its actual state as a springboard towards a more social and inclusive commonality.


Xenofeminism argues for “a politics able to think an intersectional or ‘relative’ universalism as a gluing operation after decades of identity politics that emphasize particularisms


In other words, it advocates for a “bottom-up universal” that includes “the ability to move back and forth between local and global scales.”


Taking these insights back to considering commoning, we take inspiration from Benjamin H. Bratton’s ideas on designing “the stack to come,” or more concretely and closer to home, from peer-to-peer economics as founded by Belgian cyber philosopher Michel Bauwens; a dynamic model of creating relations between people and production that *corresponds to commoning knowledge by use of digital networks to organize immaterial and material production. We believe that it is by investigating how to consolidate these relations that we can start thinking about desirable normative propositions and the “Tall Stories” demanded by Lijster, going **from the specific to the universal and vice versa in order to build a collective horizon (rather than homogenized horizontality).


*or just org people/resources via daily curiosity..

**zoom dance ness

Building, and also socio-cultural, norms are ingrained in architecture (from concepts to drawings to buildings); they usually form the constraints against which architectural design has to compromise. Rather than seeing them as immutable impositions, they fundamentally demand to be constantly reinterpreted.

bravery to change mind everyday


For us, both came together in the closing sentence of Avanessian’s preface to Miessen’s recent book Crossbenching: “Perhaps it is high time for a xeno-architecture (of knowing) to match.” It became the name of our platform.


initiated a series of conversations with other “xeno-thinkers/practitioners” such as Patricia Reed, Anke Hennig, Daniel Falb, Luciana Parisi and Benjamin Bratton. These conversations are happening as we speak and will result in a performance in Het Kaaitheater in Brussels on April 18.


Rather than focusing on forms and looks, we aim to *collect thoughts about new ways of approaching spatial practice: rather than translating a concept directly into a physical appearance, theory and practice are inherently intertwined in Perhaps it is high time for a xeno-architecture to match —thereby opening up lines of thoughts and experimentations that cannot (yet) be anticipated.

*hosting-life-bits vai self-talk as data.. as the day [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]… that io and zoom dance


fb share (haven’t watched all yet – 2 hr):

Duel + Duet: Slavoj Žižek and Graham Harman in the conversation moderated by Anna Neimark.
On the one hand, there’s Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) that redefines the human subject according to the pressures of a “flat ontology” that treats all objects equally. On the other hand in opposition to OOO, Žižek claims that “what OOO describes as subject simply does not meet the criteria of subject— there is no place for subject in OOO,” and proposes a different “incomplete” ontology of his own in which the subject can be thought.

graham starts about 14 min to 29 min

slavoj starts at 29 min to


mar 14 2017


update on The New Normal program at Strelka in Moscow and discussion on A.I at urban scale

Encountering the other mind: How AI will shift our design process, and in turn, our cities

Benjamin Bratton explores the future of urbanism through non-human thinking, Moscow

His recent book The Stack (MIT Press, 2016), argues that new technologies like AI and cloud computing create one huge structure consisting of a plurality of layers

While, the question of human occupation, such as housing, is still very important it’s not the whole story. We need to also think of non-human centered urban design.

Our perspective is different than the conventional smart city, which may start with the premise that we are going to use information technology to manage an urban system we already in place. I am looking at AI and automation in a different way. I am interested in new kinds of systems and ways of life that could not have been possible before. This also includes, by the way, conservation. Our emphasis on longer term thinking includes the past as well as the future.

a nother way – short bit

What is at stake is quite pressing. Many of our urban problems may be made worse when we are content to think of such technologies primarily in terms of management and optimization, instead of the deeper and more fundamental and deeper challenge they pose to what counts as “urbanism.”

The questions of who is included and who is excluded from the wealth arise and the world may become more divided because people who qualify as “citizens” will enforce protection of a native basic income system. So perhaps unless UBI works everywhere at once it could help make global divisions between the rich and the poor even worse.

indeed.. has to be all.. begs we leap

and too.. unless it’s designed to be a temporary placebo..  because made up money.. even if it’s handed out unconditionally.. messes with our humanity.. and so …messes w non-human ness..

What could – and should – happen next? What would urban systems look like if they are rethought as platforms?


We may think that our experience of mind is unique and then Neuroscience shows that intelligence is more of an emergent property of matter. There are many ways we may think our intuitive experience of the world is naturally true, but, once we get outside of it, we can see that while it may be special, it is not the center of the story.

In the book, I will look at the challenges A.I. poses to certain kinds of Humanistic thought. It starts with a critique of Turing test. While Turing was, I believe, a hero, the idea that we should recognize A.I. only if it seems to perform intelligence the way we think is wrong. The anthropocentrism is dangerous.

ai as augmenting interdependency et al..

what’s up w/Hubert Dreyfus..?

And what should we use instead to measure AI?

I don’t think we should measure it! I see it as a question of encounter and communication.

hlb for 2 convos

I think of AI almost in terms of first contact narratives in sci-fi (or colonial history). In philosophy it’s called *the other mind problem.

*In phenomenology, the terms the Other and the Constitutive Other identify the other human being, in his and her differences from the Self, as being a cumulative, constituting factor in the self-image of a person; as his or her acknowledgement of being real; hence, the Other is dissimilar to and the opposite of the Self, of Us, and of the Same. The Constitutive Other is the relation between the personality(essential nature) and the person (body) of a human being; it is the relation of essential and superficial characteristics of personal identity that corresponds to the relation between opposite, but corresponding, characteristics of the Self, because the difference is inner-difference, within the Self.

The condition and quality of Otherness, the characteristics of the Other, is the state of being different from and alien to the social identity of a person and to the identity of the Self. In the discourse of philosophy, the term Otherness identifies and refers to the characteristics of Who? and What? of the Other, which are distinct and separate from the Symbolic order of things; from the Real (the authentic and unchangeable); from the æsthetic (art, beauty, taste); from political philosophy; from social norms and social identity; and from the Self.

Therefore, the condition of Otherness is a person’s non-conformity to and with the social norms of society;

and Otherness is the condition of disenfranchisement (political exclusion), effected either by the State or by the social institutions (e.g. the professions) invested with the corresponding socio-political power.

Therefore, the imposition of Otherness alienates the labelled person from the centre of society, and places him or her at the margins of society, for being the Other.

The term Othering describes the reductive action of labelling a person as someone who belongs to a subordinate social category defined as the Other. The practice of Othering is the exclusion of persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self. Likewise, in the field of human geography, the action term to Other identifies and excludes a person from the social group, placing him or her at the margins of society, where the social norms do not apply to and for the person labelled as the Other.

How do you communicate with a mind that is embodied in the world so differently than you are that shared references are uncertain?

Tarkovsky’s Solaris is a wonderful film about the other mind problem (the alien intelligence is trying to communicate with the Earthings by putting thoughts in their minds directly). The question of A.I. should be asked in this way.  A.I. will demonstrate that thinking occurs in diverse ways along a much broader spectrum than we may have imagined

When we insist that A.I. pretend to be human in order for us to interact with it,  and we miss out on many things that are going on.  

It’s helpful to think of the Earth as something we are part of and not something we are on top of.

holmgren indigenous law

The problem is when the only thing you are willing to love has to be like you and the precondition for loving is seeing your reflection in it.

It’s interesting that Turing himself was a gay man and had to pass as a straight man. I think there is something to be said about making an A.I. pass as a human in relation to making a gay man pass as a straight person. The question of passing is why I find things like Siri a bit suspicious. Passing in most cases says more about the audience than about the performer, and what is says about us is not good news. What may an A.I. that is ‘not pretending’ look like, and sound like to us?

hlb – why would it even have looks.. sound..?

Difficulties will remain if we refuse to deal with these things as they are and insist they perform only as what they are not.

ginormous.. thinking drucker law and dreyfus ness

That never works. It makes for bad Anthropology and will not help steer the technology toward more beneficial ends. That is what my next book is really about.

day 1 showcase videostream – july 2017

Juha van ‘t Zelfde (@juhavantzelfde) tweeted at 4:42 AM on Tue, Jul 04, 2017:
Video of talks by @bratton, Rem Koolhaas, Keller Easterling and @mthvn at The New Normal Showcase Day 1


day 2

Benjamin H. Bratton (@bratton) tweeted at 8:32 AM on Tue, Jul 04, 2017:
Strelka The New Normal Showcase Day Two starting in half an hour … live video via and FB