We Must Conjure Our Gods Before We Obey Them

Lecture | November 6 | 6:30-8 p.m. |  BAMPFA

 Michael Rock, 2x4 Inc.

 Department of Architecture

Design has become so elastic it is applied universally from chromosomes to climate change. We design spoons and tables and rooms and houses and computer programs and cities and power grids and national identities and international treaties and defense systems and, when all else fails, military campaigns. If design is anything that is planned and brought to fruition by human ingenuity, we’ve reached the point where, as Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina aptly observe “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.” At the heart of it all is the deeply human desire for coherence. Coherence means simply figuring out how things stick together but since it’s we who are doing the sticking, the orders we create are a reflection of our own desires. Since there is so much design in the world, and so little un-designed, the coherences we conjure grow to assume the sheen of inevitability. Design solidifies, and naturalizes, things that start off as opinions, stories and traditions and so supplies the form to the fictions by which we live. But while we tend to think that design exists to serve us, the reverse is true: once established it’s almost impossible think outside the the systems and structures we create to frame our lives.

 lara@berkeley.edu