The question “are we human?” is both urgent and ancient. Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley offer a multilayered exploration of the intimate relationship between human and design and rethink the philosophy of design in a multidimensional exploration from the very first tools and ornaments to the constant buzz of social media.
The average day involves the experience of thousands of layers of design that reach to outside space but also reach deep into our bodies and brains. Even the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer. There is no longer an outside to the world of design.
Colomina’s and Wigley’s field notes offer an archaeology of the way design has gone viral and is now bigger than the world. They range across the last few hundred thousand years and the last few seconds to scrutinize the uniquely plastic relation between brain and artifact. A vivid portrait emerges. Design is what makes the human. It becomes the way humans ask questions and thereby continuously redesign themselves.
Beatriz Colomina is an architectural historian and theorist who has written extensively on questions of architecture, art, technology, sexuality and media. She is Founding Director of the interdisciplinary Media and Modernity Program at Princeton University and Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Architecture. Her work has been published in more than 25 languages and her books include Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies, Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines, Domesticity at War, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media and Sexuality and Space.
Mark Wigley is professor of architecture at Columbia University. A historian and theorist, he explores the intersection of architecture, art, philosophy, culture and technology. His books include: Derrida’s Haunt: The Architecture of Deconstruction; White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture; Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire; and Buckminster Fuller Inc.: Architecture in the Age of Radio. He is the co-author of Are We Human: Notes on an Archaeology of Design with Beatriz Colomina, in association with their curation of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial. He has also curated exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Drawing Center in New York; the Witte de With and Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. His latest book is Cutting Matta-Clark: The Anarchitecture Investigation (Lars Müller, 2018). He was born in New Zealand, trained there as an architect, then as a scholar, and is based in New York.