benjaminbratton   33

SCI-Arc Launches Liberal Arts Curriculum for its Bachelor of Architecture Program - SCI-Arc
This fall Harman will be joined by the following new Liberal Arts Faculty: Adam Lawrence, Jia Gu, Kavior Moon, and Michael Stock.
la  sciarc  jiagu  grahamharman  benjaminbratton 
september 2016 by gohai
UCSD, Parsons and the Cooper Hewitt: Institutions of education and culture making a commitment to design's intellectually-oriented practice - Core77
"Last week we mentioned how governments were dabbling in discursive design, and this week three major educational and cultural institutions weighed in with different forms of support for this intellectual arm of design practice.

Perhaps the biggest news was the announcement by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) starting a new undergraduate major, Speculative Design. Within the Department of Visual Arts, known for an emphasis on experimental art and the resistance of commercial art and even commercial fine art, the inclusion of design to its offerings was not without some initial resistance. As its Chair, Jack M. Greenstein reflected upon the genesis of the program three or four years ago: with "design so closely related to product and marketing…we couldn't really foresee how this would work."

This rejection of design due to its relationship with commerce has long been a point of tension within schools of art, sometimes resulting bad blood, formal schisms, and even banishment. The same reason that UCSD eventually found that speculative design made sense for them—that it is ultimately idea-based and shares many of the same goals as experimental art—is precisely why it can be discounted by mainstream design.

Just as it has taken the good part of a century for schools of design to emerge (rather than having industrial design, for example, located in schools of architecture, schools of engineering, and schools of art) discursive design has not found a singular home in academia. But similar to corporate product development processes where design is seen as the link between marketing, manufacturing, and engineering, discursive design can be the bridge between art, technology, and more traditional design education.

As opposed to UCSD's seeming emphasis on discursive design's more artistic capacities, the MIT Media Lab stresses its value in the technological sphere. Their Design Fiction Group, under the leadership of Hiromi Ozaki (a.k.a. Sputniko!) is particularly interested in prospective students "with a strong interest in emerging technologies" and with "backgrounds in synthetic biology, bioengineering, and electronics." And certainly many industrial design programs are looking at discursive design projects and courses as a way to extend the cultural reach of design as part of an expanded notion of 21st century practice.

As part of UCSD's launch event for the program, Fiona Raby gave the keynote speech, presenting the many and influential projects of her co-run studio, Dunne and Raby. This occurred just a day after The New School's Parsons School of Design publicly announced that she and Anthony Dunne were beginning a "new gig" within their School of Design Strategies.

In moving from their celebrated positions at the Royal College of Art, Parsons can offer them a broader collaborative community. Raby says, "In joining The New School, I will be able to not only work with faculty and students to explore new forms of socially engaged practice in relation to emerging technology, but also collaborate with some amazing people in disciplines like anthropology and political theory, which Anthony and I haven't been able to connect with before."

While their positions include teaching, they are also going to be driving collaborations with other universities, notably the MIT Media Lab. The hope, says Tim Marshall, The New School's provost, is that "their inspiration and insight will help our students to not only prepare for but also help shape our social and technological futures."

And it is this question of social and technological futures that Forbes contributor Johnathon Keats questions in, "Can the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial Save Us from the Next Global Die-Off?" Published a day after Raby's keynote and in anticipation of the Triennial's February 12th opening, Keats discusses several discursive design projects to be exhibited that deal with synthetic biology and questions of its relationship to how we might (have to) live our lives. Designers Daisy Ginsberg, Neri Oxman, and Ana Rajcevic exhibit objects and images of hypothetical creatures, synthetic organs, and animal-inspired prosthetics for humans.

These uses of current and future synthetic biology and bioengineering are of course not predictions, but provocations. As UCSD professor, Benjamin Bratton stated in his insightful (and perhaps incite-ful) lecture just prior to Raby's keynote: "These technologies are Pharmakon [Socrates' term]: remedy and poison. Any perspective that emphasizes their positive or negative potential without assuming the inverse is incomplete or dishonest." The Cooper Hewitt as a cultural institution is trying in this way to keep us a little more honest.

In regard to this week's events from the UCSD program announcement, to Dunne and Raby's gig at Parsons, to the kickoff of the Triennial, we turn to Keats' for a helpful summation: "While more frequently found in art, this philosophical turn belongs equally in the realm of design, where it can problematize product development before manufacturers remake society in their own image. Moreover, design is the universal language of the modern world. Using design speculatively brings philosophy to everyone."

The "everyone" is certainly an ethnocentric oversight, given that discursive design is currently a product of and for the privileged world. But all of this is a start. In order to responsibly, substantively, and extensively deliver on this promise, we need even further academic emphasis, even more visionary practitioners, and even greater public engagement in discursive design's future.
Designers! Help future a future."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/705497337502642176

See also discussion here: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/705497387586842624 ]
speculativedesign  design  ycsd  cooper-hewitt  parsons  brucetharp  stephanietharp  jackgreenstein  discursivedesign  benjaminbratton  mitmedialab  hiromiozaki  designfiction  designfictiongroup  sputniko!anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  newschool  speculation  daisyginsberg  nerioxman  anarajcevic  medialab 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Sternberg Press - Benjamin H. Bratton
"e-flux journal
Benjamin H. Bratton
Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution

With a foreword by Keller Easterling

Equal parts Borges, Burroughs, Baudrillard, and Black Ops, Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution charts a treacherous landscape filled with paranoid master plans, failed schemes, and dubious histories.

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.

The cast of characters in this ensemble drama of righteous desperation and tactical trickery shuttle between fact and speculation, action and script, flesh and symbol, death and philosophy: insect urbanists, seditious masquerades, epistolary ideologues, distant dissimulations, carnivorous installations, forgotten footage, branded revolts, imploding skyscrapers, sentimental memorials, ad-hoc bunkers, sacred hijackings, vampire safe-houses, suburban enclaves, big-time proposals, ambient security protocols, disputed borders-of-convenience, empty research campuses, and robotic surgery.

In this mosaic we glimpse a future city built with designed violence and the violence of design. As one ratifies the other, the exception becomes the ruler."

[on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dispute-Prevent-Future-Constitution-journal-ebook/dp/B01ABCB8FM/ ]
benjaminbratton  kellereasterling  borges  baudrillard  blackops  williamsburroughs  fiction  toread  books  future  futures  utopia  politics  security  control  propaganda  sciencefiction  violence 
january 2016 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with TED Talks? Benjamin Bratton at TEDxSanDiego 2013
Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD and Director of The Center for Design and Geopoltics at CALIT2, asks: Why don't the bright futures promised in TED talks come true? Professor Bratton attacks the intellectual viability of TED, calling it placebo politics, middlebrow megachurch infotainment, and the equivalent of right-wing media channels. Does TED falsely present problems as simply puzzles to be solved by rearranging the pieces?
TED  BenjaminBratton 
april 2015 by dmql8
The Sound of TED: A Case for Distaste | The American Reader
"There seems to be an important lesson for educators in Mitra’s experiment. It stirs real emotions in people. Like a lot of what makes it onto the TED stage, it seems to inspire something in the viewer. Mitra’s talk is played and replayed in education courses across the world as an inspiration for… well, it’s not clear for exactly what. Mitra implies that the time for traditional education is over (something that was declared by many people as early as a hundred-and-fifty years ago, when the first “traditional” public school systems were being set up) and that technology can now allow for different, more autonomous and distributed structures of learning. Nevermind that his experiment was conducted in slums where children had no cellphones, no movies, no parties, no alcohol, no swim-lessons in the afternoon, no books, barely a real school, and, yes, no computers; we are to assume that the results there somehow have something to do with European or American public schools as well. Mitra ends the talk with a shameless plug for his project of putting a computer before every child. The lesson of his experiment, the role of play and autonomy in effective education, is in one stroke turned into icing for a project that has very little to do with what got his audience excited about the first few minutes of his talk.

This is obfuscation. A nice little experiment is used to give the impression that a large, systemic problem like schooling can be solved easily. That, however, cannot be the real issue with TED—because what I have just described applies to most of what is funded and performed as social research across the world. It is positivist thought with a twist of sleek camera-work. The debate over what this type of thinking means for practice and research stretches back into the 19th century. Whatever TED’s critics have suggested, there is nothing that TED does to ideas or science that has not been done before. The particular problem with TED is elsewhere."



"I will be crass: the most interesting thing about Bratton’s talk is that in the early minutes of the lecture, just as he has delivered his main thesis, he suddenly forgets what he is supposed to say. There is a pause. It would be perfectly natural in another format to wait and gather one’s thoughts, but the pause is strangely disturbing in this context. He loses his place, then his nerve, and for the rest of the talk he struggles under an invisible weight. He has to heave a breath into each sentence, trying to propel himself into a rhythm that he doesn’t regain until the very end. What he is struggling under is the pressure of the TED style."



"But even Adichie’s presentation caters to the format by not acknowledging the shameful absurdity of the situation. The only exception is Sarah Silverman’s talk—which TED refuses to publish on its website. In the unofficial video that somehow made it to YouTube, Silverman is called on to deliver a comedy routine. She is a practiced stand-up and knows her craft—but here she abandons it completely. She pauses inordinately. She drags out her jokes until they are excruciating, then repeats them for good measure. She points her clicker, needlessly and awkwardly, toward the PowerPoint screen behind her which displays nothing but single-sentence TEDisms: ‘Communication is important’ (she talks about discussing a hand-shaped bruise on her ass with her mother); ‘What the world needs now’ (“I am 39 years old,” she says “and I still wake up every morning so thankful that I don’t have to go to school,”); and ‘TED is fancy’ (she discusses how the number 3000 can be seen as a pair of breasts defecating). Finally she picks up her guitar and informs the audience that her next song is dedicated to the porn-stars in the audience, “and you are all stars” she informs them. The moment her song—about how all the cocks in the universe cannot fill the hole in the aforementioned star’s heart—comes to an end, she bails, taking the microphone with her and depriving the audience of the chance to applaud her. On walks one of the largest shit-eating grins in the history of recorded entertainment—a presenter— who repeatedly begs Silverman to come back, until Silverman, who unlike the others in the room does have a sense of shame, obliges. The audience now push to their feet for a standing ovation that is nothing but an attempt to deny their own humiliation. “This can’t be right,” mutters Silverman, bewildered.

For various reasons, I find myself forced to sit through a TED-talk now and then. I squirm in my seat—feeling humiliated for myself and the speaker. This is a distinctly un-adult feeling. Adults have lost their capacity for disgust—which is partly why Silverman often jokes about her own unending adolescence. Unwavering critical open-mindedness has, for a very long time, become the correct intellectual posture, and it’s never clear if at any point one can allow oneself to have a visceral reaction against a genre, an industry, or a situation without feeling either childish or curmudgeonly. Teenagers are half-better than adults in this respect: in high doses, tackiness puts them off. They collectively begin to step back from a thing, and they are generally aware that what’s bothering them is not content, but style. So they turn away from Facebook in droves, without having read a single line of cultural criticism on social media. They look back at their own participation in whatever style they dropped with mild horror. That they are then lured in by the next shiny thing is a different story. The point is that the average adult avoids the horror of disgust, which means consciously sticking to what’s most bland and middle-of-the-road: HBO, pants, college, Obama, and, for a few years now, TED.

A decent strategy with TED might be to reclaim our teenage capacities and treat these videos as hopelessly passé—ignore them to death. Critiquing them, even as I have done, will do what criticism has done for television: creating an added enjoyment as you go on consuming the crap you despise. I know what I am watching is disgraceful, but aren’t I great at seeing why it’s disgraceful? I only watch it to keep up-to-date with the unwashed masses."
ted  houmanharouni  2014  tedtalks  benjaminbratton  nathanheller  sugatamitra  sarahsilverman  holeinthewall  chimamandaadichie  presentations 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Reclaiming Innovation
"Udell notes: "There's a reason I keep finding novel uses for these trailing-edge technologies. I see them not as closed products and services, but rather as toolkits that invite their users to adapt and extend them.""

"Rather than framing everything at the course level, we should be deploying these technologies for the individual."

"Viewed as a whole, the web today bears little resemblance to the innately democratic and decentralized network that seduced and enticed us a decade ago."

"Railing against the academy's failure to embrace a perceived risk can be dismal fun for many of us, but an honest appraisal of our own missteps has to be in the mix."
2014  jimgroom  brianlamb  audreywatters  internet  web  highered  highereducation  it  ict  technology  mooc  moocs  disruption  open  edupunk  lms  openpublishing  publishing  adomainofone'sown  diy  decentralization  anildash  georgesiemens  stephendownes  jonudell  benjaminbratton  vendors  silos  security  privacy  venturecapital  tonyhirst  timberners-lee  bryanalexander  openness  reclaimhosting  indieweb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"Part of my work explores deep technocultural shifts, from post-humanism to the post-anthropocene, but TED’s version has too much faith in technology, and not nearly enough commitment to technology. It is placebo technoradicalism, toying with risk so as to re-affirm the comfortable."
TED  BenjaminBratton  Anthropocene 
january 2014 by imranx
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"This is my rant against TED, placebo politics, "innovation," middlebrow megachurch infotainment, etc., given at TEDx San Diego at their invitation (thank you to Jack Abbott and Felena Hanson)."
benjaminbratton  ted  critique 
december 2013 by gohai
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"So what is TED exactly?

Perhaps it's the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough then the world will change. But this is not true, and that's the second problem.

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realization, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I'm sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are very complicated are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time –and the audience’s time— dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

Recently there was a bit of a dust up when TED Global sent out a note to TEDx organizers to not book speakers whose work spans the paranormal, the conspiratorial, New Age, quantum neuroenergy, etc: what is called Woo. Instead of these placebos, TEDx should instead curate talks that are imaginative but grounded in reality. In fairness, they took some heat, so their gesture should be acknowledged. A lot of people take TED very seriously, and might lend credence to specious ideas if stamped with TED credentials. "No" to placebo science and medicine.

But the corollaries of placebo science and placebo medicine are placebo politics and placebo innovation. On this point, TED has a long ways to go.

Perhaps the pinnacle of placebo politics and innovation was featured at TEDx San Diego in 2011. You’re familiar I assume with Kony2012, the social media campaign to stop war crimes in central Africa? What happened here? Evangelical Christian surfer Bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of Central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony’s still there. The end.

You see, when inspiration becomes manipulation, inspiration becomes obfuscation. If you are not cynical you should be skeptical. You should be as skeptical of placebo politics as you are placebo medicine."



"E and Economics

A better 'E' in TED would stand for Economics, and the need for, yes imagining and designing, different systems of valuation, exchange, accounting of transaction externalites, financing of coordinated planning, etc. Because States plus Markets, States versus Markets, these are insufficient models, and our conversation is still stuck in Cold War gear.

Worse is when economics is debated like metaphysics, as if the reality of a system is merely a bad example of the ideal.

Communism in theory is an egalitarian utopia

Actually existing Communism meant ecological devastation, government spying, crappy cars and gulags

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing Capitalism means Walmart jobs, people living in sewers under Las Vegas, McMansions, Ryan Seacrest…plus —ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?

The most recent centuries have seen extraordinary accomplishments in improving quality of life. But the paradox is that the system we have now --whatever you want to call it-- is in the short term what makes the amazing new technologies possible, but in the long run it is also what suppresses their full flowering. Another economic architecture is prerequisite."



"As for one simple take away... I don't have one simple take away, one magic idea. That’s kind of the point. I will say that when and if the key problems facing our species were to be solved, then perhaps many of us in this room would be out of work (and perhaps in jail).

But it’s not as though there is a shortage of topics for serious discussion. We need a deeper conversation about the difference between digital cosmopolitanism and Cloud Feudalism (toward that, a queer history of computer science and Alan Turing’s birthday as holiday!)

I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomics and bronze age myths, but instead on something more… scalable.

TED today is not that.

Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be re-arranged and re-programmed. It’s not true.

“Innovation” that moves the pieces around and adds more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary, ...the only boundary left is our imagination.” Wrong.

If we really want transformation we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

Instead of dumbing down the future we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration," it's about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins

At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest things that make us feel good but which don’t work, and don’t invest things that don’t make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder and harder to feel good about not solving any problems.

In this case the placebo is worse than ineffective, it's harmful. It's diverts your interest, enthusiasm and outrage until it's absorbed into this black hole of affectation

Keep calm and carry on "innovating"... is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.

In the U.S. the right-wing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality... other constituencies have TED."

[Now posted at the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted ]
benjaminbratton  ted  tedxsandiego  2013  politics  technology  sandiego  lajolla  communism  capitalism  kony2012  geopolitics  drones  nsa  surveillance  innovation  ambiguity  contradiction  demystification  cynicism  skepticism  cloudfeudalism  digitalcosmopolitanism  via:javierarbona 
december 2013 by robertogreco

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