Design and Existential Risk

Parsons The New School for Design: Fall 2010 Lecture series

Participant Bios

Benjamin H. Bratton is a sociological, media, and design theorist. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, and Director of the Center for Design & Geopolitics at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, one of the premier applied research institutes in the application of supercomputing and very-large scale data visualization across the sciences, humanities and social sciences. His work sits at the intersections of contemporary social and political theory, computational media & infrastructure, and architectural & urban design problems and methodologies. Current research interests include: the philosophical problematics of the interfaciality, digital urbanism & media architecture, contemporary continental philosophy & aesthetic theory, institutional technology transfer protocols and platforms, design research management & methodologies, classical and contemporary sociological theory, history of the social sciences, organizational theory, and interaction and interface design. Bratton has lectured widely, and is the author of many articles, book chapters, in both academic and popular publications. Bratton has published widely, from AD:Architectural Design and Volume to BlackBook and Theory, Culture & Society, and has been an visiting lecturer and critic at Columbia, Pratt, Yale, Architectural Association of London, Penn, USC, UCLA, Art Center College of Design, Michigan, Brown, the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, among others. He was also co-chair of ambient:interface, the 54th (and final) International Aspen Design Conference. He is a frequent advisor and consultant to public and private organizations. He is the former Director of the Advanced Strategies Group at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale and Burbank, CA, and former Director of Information Architecture at Razorfish in Los Angeles and New York. As principal of The Culture Industry, a strategic research and planning consultancy he has developed projects with Motorola, Microsoft, Imaginary Forces, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, among others. He splits time between Los Angeles and La Jolla with his partner, Bruna Mori and their son, Lucien.

Michael Chen is an architect living and working in New York City. He is a principal of Normal Projects, an architecture and design practice based in New York and Los Angeles. He has taught design studios and seminars at Pratt Institute, Cornell University, and The University of California, Berkeley. He co-directs the Crisis Fronts Degree Project research studio and seminar at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. The principal products of the studio are design strategies and scenarios concerning a broad range of ecological, infrastructural, and urban crises with an emphasis on the development of experimental and speculative approaches to computation and digital design tools.

Keller Easterling is an architect, urbanist, and writer. She is a Professor of Architecture at Yale. Her latest book, Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005), researches familiar spatial products that have landed in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world. The book won Yale’s Gustave Ranis Award for the best book by a Yale faculty member in 2005. Her previous book, Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America, applies network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure and development formats. A forthcoming book, Extrastatecraft, will examine global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. Ms. Easterling is the coauthor, with Rick Prelinger, of Call It Home, a laser disc history of suburbia, which is soon to be released in DVD. She is also the author of a book and database titled American Town Plans. On the Web, Ms. Easterling has published research installations such as “Wildcards: A Game of Orgman” and “Highline: Plotting NYC.” Her work has been widely published in journals such as Art Forum, Domus, Grey Room, Volume, Cabinet, Assemblage, Log, Praxis, Harvard Design Magazine, Perspecta, Metalocus, and ANY. Her work is also included as chapters in numerous publications. She has lectured widely in the United States as well as internationally. Ms. Easterling’s work has been exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Rotterdam Biennale, the Queens Museum, the Architectural League, the Municipal Arts Society, and the Wexner Center. Ms. Easterling taught at Columbia prior to joining Yale.

David Gersten is an architect and writer based in New York City. He is a Professor of Architecture at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union where he has served as the Associate Dean. He is also a visiting professor in the Graduate Studies division at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where teaches a seminar entitled ‘A Material Imagination of the Social Contract’ and a thesis studio in the department of architecture. He has previously served as a visiting professor at universities in the U.S. and abroad, including: City University of New York; Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in Spain; Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar and Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz in Bolivia; and Universidad Catolica de Cordoba in Argentina. In addition to his studio practice of drawing, constructions and fiction writing, Gersten has published and lectured on diverse areas of research including: the instruments of global capital and technologies; the linkages between language, cognition and space; embodied experience and knowledge, as well as questions of ethics, empathy and the social contract. His current research is looking at: expanded disciplinary geographies, polymorphic transformation and the evolution of knowledge. His work is held in the collection of the Canadian Center for Architecture and has been the subject of exhibitions at The Cooper Union, RISD, the University of Virginia and the Whitney Museum, as well as in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Romania. His work has also appeared in many publications including: RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, The Making Of Design Principles (RISD), the recent book ‘Ineffable’ and the literary journal ‘Boulevard’. He has served as visiting critic and lectured at: Harvard, Yale, RISD, Parsons School of Design, McGill University, the Canadian Center for Architecture and the Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Later this year, the Paris-based publisher Editions Firmin-Didot will release “Hunting Life: A Forever House”, a collection of drawings and writings by Professor Gersten. He is a graduate of The Cooper Union, School of Architecture.

Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, and chief scientist at Consensus Point. After receiving his Ph.D. in social science from the California Institute of Technology in 1997, Robin was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, Robin received a masters in physics and a masters in the philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, and afterward spent nine years researching artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistics, and hypertext publishing at Lockheed, NASA, and independently. Robin has over 70 publications, including articles in Applied Optics, Business Week, CATO Journal, Communications of the ACM, Economics Letters, Econometrica, Economics of Governance, Extropy, Forbes, Foundations of Physics, IEEE Intelligent Systems, Information Systems Frontiers, Innovations, International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Evolution and Technology, Journal of Law Economics and Policy, Journal of Political Philosophy, Journal of Prediction Markets, Journal of Public Economics, Medical Hypotheses, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Public Choice, Social Epistemology, Social Philosophy and Policy, Theory and Decision, and Wired.  Robin has pioneered prediction markets, also known as information markets or idea futures, since 1988. He was the first to write in detail about people creating and subsidizing markets in order to gain better estimates on those topics. Robin was a principal architect of the first internal corporate markets, at Xanadu in 1990, of the first web markets, the Foresight Exchange since 1994, and of DARPA’s Policy Analysis Market, from 2001 to 2003. Robin has developed new technologies for conditional, combinatorial, and intermediated trading, and has studied insider trading, manipulation, and other foul play. Robin has written and spoken widely on the application of idea futures to business and policy, being mentioned in over one hundered press articles on the subject, and advising many ventures, including GuessNow, Newsfutures, Particle Financial, Prophet Street, Trilogy Advisors, XPree, YooNew, and undisclosable defense research projects. He is now chief scientist at Consensus Point.   Robin has diverse research interests, with papers on spatial product competition, health incentive contracts, group insurance, product bans, evolutionary psychology and bioethics of health care, voter information incentives, incentives to fake expertize, Bayesian classification, agreeing to disagree, self-deception in disagreement, probability elicitation, wiretaps, image reconstruction, the history of science prizes, reversible computation, the origin of life, the survival of humanity, very long term economic growth, growth given machine intelligence, and interstellar colonization.

Jeffrey Inaba, INABA, C-Lab
Jeffrey Inaba is the founder of INABA an architecture and urbanism firm based in Los Angeles which recently completed projects for the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. He’s the author of World of Giving (Lars Muller 2009) a book on Aid Capital and development policy. Inaba directs C-Lab, a communications and policy research unit at Columbia University and is the features editor of Volume Magazine.

Ed Keller is a designer, professor, writer, musician and multimedia artist. He is an Associate Dean [Distributed Learning and Technology] & Associate Professor at Parsons the New School for Design. Professionally, he is a founder with Carla Leitao of AUM Studio, an award winning architecture and new media firm that has produced residential projects, competitions, and new media installations in Europe and the US. They have participated in urban design and architecture competitions including MAK Vertical Garden; Turku Finland; UIA Celebration of Cities (National Award); House for Andrei Tarkovsky (first prize) and Museum for Nam June Paik. They presented their installation ‘Time Flow Control’ at the 2004 Beijing Biennale NY Hotspot event. Since 1993 he has lectured on architecture, film and digital media at institutions including Harvard, Pratt, Princeton, Univ. Ramon Llull, Columbia Univ. GSAPP, Parsons, UPenn, Rensselaer Polytechnic, Iowa State, Ohio State, and Rice.  Chronomorphology: Active Time in Architecture, a survey of his graduate design studios at the Columbia GSAP, was published in 2004 by CBA. His work and writing has appeared in ANY, AD, Arquine, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Architecture, Parpaings, Precis, Wired, Metropolis, Assemblage, Ottagono, and Progressive Architecture.

Annie K. Kwon is principal of Kwonix, an architecture practice based in design, performance and teaching and is the co-founder of Metropolix, a platform for urban innovation through culture, technology and policy.  She has recently completed projects with artist James Turrell, Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation and Giorgio Armani Corporation. Her current curatorial project, No Fixed Points in Space, with the Cunningham Dance Foundation, is program series on Architecture and Performance at Columbia University and the Architecture Foundation in London.  This year Annie received an Asian Cultural Council grant for a contemporary architectural interchange between Seoul and New York. Annie’s multi-media collaboration with Paul D. Miller, The Nauru Elegies: A Portrait in Sound and Hypsographic Architecture, recently opened at the Experimenta Biennial 2010 in Melbourne.  Annie teaches graduate thesis at Pratt Institute, theory and writing at Parsons School of Design and experimental curricula on viral information architecture at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School.

Jason Lee is an architect who lives and works in New York City.  He is the co-founder, with Dragana Zoric, of tentwenty, a multidisciplinary design practice.  He has taught design studios and seminars at Pratt Institute and Cooper Union, and he is the Acting Assistant Chair of the Undergraduate Architecture Department at Pratt Institute. He co-directs the Crisis Fronts Degree Project research studio and seminar at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. The principal products of the studio are design strategies and scenarios concerning a broad range of ecological, infrastructural, and urban crises with an emphasis on the development of experimental and speculative approaches to computation and digital design tools.

Carla Leitao is an architect and writer who lives and works in New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal. She is the co-founder, with Ed Keller, of AUM Studio in NY and Umasideia in Lisbon. She has taught architecture studios and seminars at RPI, UPenn, Pratt Institute, Cornell University and City College, NY; and also co-taught at Columbia Univ. GSAPP. Her practice and academic endeavors focus on the convergence of Urban Phenomena, Ubiquitous Cultures, Digital Communication and the role of Architecture and Urban Design in political and cultural innovation. Publications include “4 Lines” (Akademie Schloss Solitude) and “City Fragments” (CBA). Projects include built and ongoing residential and institutional projects. Exhibitions and installations include “Suture” (SCI Arc and Telic Gallery, LA); “True Romance” (Sttuttgart, Germany); and Young Blood in Lisbon, Portugal.

Geoff Manaugh is the author of BLDGBLOG and The BLDGBLOG Book, former senior editor of Dwell magazine, and a contributing editor at Wired UK. Along with Nicola Twilley, Manaugh organized and co-curated the “Landscapes of Quarantine” design studio and exhibition at New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2010, and he is currently curating a 2011 exhibition for the Nevada Museum of Art called “Landscape Futures.” In addition to lecturing on a broad range of architectural topics at museums and universities around the world, Manaugh has taught design studios at Columbia University, the Pratt Institute, the University of Technology, Sydney, and USC. He lives in Los Angeles.

Mathan Ratinam is an Assistant Professor in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons The New School for Design. In this role he co-ordinates the Humanitarian Design Platform conducting design research with various external partners from the humanitarian, NGO and development community including the Red Cross, Oxfam America and the UN. Previously at Columbia University he directed the Moving Image Lab at Columbia (MILC), a project-based research lab exploring the role of film and animation in architecture and design, and taught courses in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. His work has been screened in film festivals internationally and he continues to publish in the areas of digital representation for architecture, animation and visual effects for film. Trained as an architect, he spent his earlier years working at the offices of Daniel Libeskind in Berlin and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in New York before moving into film and animation. He is now a practicing filmmaker and academic leading efforts to assist vulnerable communities through projects that couple people from the humanitarian and development fields with design researchers and practitioners.

smudge is a collaboration between Jamie Kruse and Elizabeth Ellsworth. We create contexts and speculative tools for humans to recalibrate their sense of place within the geologic timescale. Our larger mandate is to meet sites and moments where the geologic and the human converge. We creatively respond to the complex of forces we encounter there: the natural, built, historic, social, strategic and the imagined. Jamie Kruse is a designer, artist, and independent scholar. Elizabeth Ellsworth is Associate Provost for Curriculum and Learning and Professor of Media Studies at the New School, New York.

Bruce Sterling is an Austin-based science fiction writer and Net critic, internationally recognized as a cyberspace theorist. His writings have been influential in the cyberpunk movement in literature, specifically the novels Heavy Weather (1994), Islands in the Net (1988), Schismatrix (1985), The Artificial Kid (1980), and Involution Ocean (1977). Along with William Gibson, another one of the major figures of cyberpunk, Bruce Sterling co-authored the novel The Difference Engine (1990), a novel which is part of the steampunk sub-genre. The novel forms an alternate or speculative history set in 1855 London, which is anachronistically advanced.  Sterling is the editor of Mirrorshades, co-editor of The Cyberpunk Anthology, and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As well as being a leading science fiction writer,  Sterling has been involved with numerous projects and written several books of futurist theory. He was the founder of the Dead Media Project, an on-line reliquary, or archive, to forgotten, or dead, media technologies. In this way, he looked to the past through the future, anticipating, almost, in the shininess of new media, its utter destruction.  Sterling also founded the Viridian Design Movement, an environmental aesthetic movement founded on the ideas of global citizenship, environmental design and techno-progressiveness. His numerous book-length essays both question and promote how the future is shaping our concepts of self, time and space. In Shaping Things (2005), he offers a history of shaped objects, moving from the most rudimentary hand-made artifacts through to the complex machinery which defines our current existence. In Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years (2002), Bruce Sterling examines how today’s technologies will affect our future lives. He makes bold claims on the future, examining scientists’ use of medicine to extend our lives while examining at the same time our seemingly bottomless thirst for oil.  Sterling’s most acclaimed book, The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Order on the Electronic Frontier (1993) is a deep history of the birth of cyberspace, following the periphery of the development of technology from the first telephone hackers to the government’s attack on several prominent hackers in 1990. Sterling’s novels include Intuition Ocean (1977), The Artifical Kid (1980), Heavy Weather (1994), Holy Fire (1996), Distraction (1998), Zeitgeist (2000), The Zenith Angle (2004), Kiosk (2007), and most recently The Caryatids (2009). His essay collection and non-fiction books include The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Order on the Electronic Frontier (1993), Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years (2002), and Shaping Things (2005). He currently blogs at Beyond the Beyond for Wired Magazine.

Joel Towers is the Dean of Parsons and an Associate Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design. Joel has worked across Parsons and The New School participating in the design and development of leading-edge new programs, curricular innovation, and the implementation of highly consultative and inclusive governance.  Prior to his appointment as Dean of Parsons, Joel was the Dean of Parsons’ School of Design Strategies, one of Parsons five schools.  The School of Design Strategies was formed as part of a Parsons-wide major academic restructuring and brings together the programs and faculty of the Integrated Design Curriculum, Design and Management, and the foundation year program.  Under Joel, the School of Design Strategies played a major role in the development and delivery of new university-wide initiatives in urban design and environmental studies as well as plans for future graduate programs in transdisciplinary design and design management. Joel came to The New School in 2004 in a new role as Director of Sustainable Design and Urban Ecology. In 2006, he became the inaugural Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center and Associate Provost for Environmental Studies. In each of these roles he advanced institutional aims on a broad and ambitious scale, demonstrating a clear understanding of the shared intellectual paradigms emerging between the liberal arts, social sciences, and design.  A prime example of this approach was the university-wide Environmental Studies degrees Joel helped to create in partnership with Eugene Lang College. Prior to joining The New School, Joel taught in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, developing cross-disciplinary teaching and research focused on sustainability and urban ecology in relation to urban design and architecture.  A practicing architect for the past two decades, Joel co-founded the firm Sislian, Rothstein and Towers (SR+T Architects).  For several years the firm maintained offices in New York and Berlin. Today the work generated through SR+T continues in new collaborations that extend the realm of traditional practice into construction, materials development, real estate development, and sustainable design. Joel received his Masters in Architecture from Columbia University and his B.S. in Architecture from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Kazys Varnelis is the Director of the Network Architecture Lab at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. In addition to directing the Netlab and conducting research, he is on the architecture faculty at Columbia and teaches studios and seminars in history, theory, and research. Varnelis is a co-founder of the conceptual architecture/media group AUDC, which published Blue Monday: Absurd Realities and Natural Histories in 2007 and has exhibited widely in places such as High Desert Test Sites. He is editor of the Infrastructural City. Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles, Networked Publics and The Philip Johnson Tapes: Interviews with Robert A. M. Stern, all published in 2008. He has also worked with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, for which he produced the pamphlet Points of Interest in the Owens Valley.  He received his Ph.D. in the history of architecture and urban development from Cornell University in 1994, where he completed his dissertation on the role of the spectacle in the production of form and persona in the architecture of the 1970s.  From 1996 to 2003 he taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture where he was coordinator of the program in the History and Theory of Architecture and Cities. In 2004 he became a founding member of the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Limerick, Ireland where he continues to teach and is on the advisory board. He has also taught in the Environmental Design program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, the Public Art Studies program at the University of Southern California, the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He has lectured internationally at schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, UCLA, TU-Delft, the IUAV and at venues such as the Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, the Architectural League, the Van Alen Institute, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Open Society Fund, and the Glass House. He has published in journals such as A+U, Praxis, Log, Perspecta, Cabinet and is on the boards of numerous scholarly journals such as Thresholds, the Journal of Architectural Education, and Kulturos Barai. As former President of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, he received the Educator of the Year Award from the Los Angeles Institute of the American Institute of Architects. He has served on the national board of DOCOMOMO-US since 2004. Kazys’s teaching and research focuses on contemporary architecture, late modernism, architecture and capitalism, and the impact of recent changes in telecommunications and demographics on the contemporary city. Most recently, Kazys has been exploring Network Culture, the Network City, and Networked Publics.

McKenzie Wark is Professor of Culture & Media at Lang College, and the author of A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory, and various other things.

Mark Wigley is an architect, author and the Dean of Architecture at Columbia University. Raised and educated in New Zealand, with Mike Austin as his doctoral supervisor, he moved to the USA in 1986 to teach at Princeton University. In 1988, Mark Wigley co-curated with Philip Johnson the MoMA exhibition Deconstructivist Architecture, featuring Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas and Coop Himmelb(l)au. In 2005, Wigley founded Volume Magazine with Rem Koolhaas and Ole Bouman, which serves as an experimental think tank focussing on the process of spatial and cultural reflexivity: Wigley has written on the theory and practice of architecture, and  is the author of The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida’s Haunt (1993), White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture (1995), and Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (1998). He co-edited The Activist Drawing: Situationist Architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to Beyond (2001).

Adriana Valdez Young is an urban lifestyle researcher who has created installations in shopping malls in the U.S., India,and China. Her work has been featured in the Mediamatic Biennial in Amsterdam and Conflux City 2009. Her current research explores the conflation of democracy with shopping, and the emerging real estate speculation for shopping malls and luxury lifestyle complexes in Iraq. She teaches hybrid seminar-studio courses that activate New York City as a laboratory in the departments of Art, Design, History and Theory, Global Studies, and The Graduate Program for International Affairs. She also works for IKEA as a product hacker and blogger.

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