What is the new normal? Something has shifted, it seems. We are making new worlds faster than we can keep track of them, and the pace is unlikely to slow. If our technologies have advanced beyond our ability to conceptualize their implications, such gaps can be perilous. In response, one impulse is to pull the emergency brake and to try put all the genies back in all the bottles. This is ill-advised (and hopeless). Better instead to invest in emergence, in contingency: to map the new normal for what it is, and to shape it toward what it should be.
Part manifesto and part syllabus, this essay by design theorist, Benjamin H. Bratton describes his vision for how design should approach and intervene in the new normal and what kinds of cities we should be planning for now.
Bratton is Programme Director of The Strelka Institute of Architecture, Media and Design in Moscow, a resilient beacon of generous futurism in a time and place at the centre of contemporary twists and turns. The essay outlines The New Normal post-graduate think-tank at Strelka, which brings together architects, programmers, interaction designers, game designers, artists, philosophers, filmmakers, novelists, economists, and ‘free-range’ computer scientists. They study with Keller Easterling, Lev Manovich, Metahaven (Vinca Kruk and Daniel Van Der Velden), Casey Reas, Liam Young, and many others.