The Power of Infrastructure Space

Lecture by Keller Easterling

"Microwaves bounce between billions of cell phones. Computers synchronize. Shipping containers stack, lock, and calibrate the global transportation and production of goods. Credit cards, all sized 0.76mm, slip through the slots in cash machines anywhere in the world. All of these ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous features of our world are evidence of global infrastructure."

"Spaces and urban arrangements are usually treated as collections of objects or volumes, not as actors. Yet the organisation itself is active. It is doing something, and changes in the organisation constitute information. Action is not necessarily movement but rather embodied in relationships, relative position and potential in organisations. Action is immanent in the disposition of an organisation. Here is no prescription for architecture only a technique for performing it."

Keller Easterling 

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UMA PhD Research Seminar

The public lecture and roundtable with Keller Easterling, Professor Yale school of Architecture, New Heaven (USA) taking place the 2nd and 3rd of February 2015, is part of the UMA PhD research school seminar organized by the UMA School of Architecture, Umeå, in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, the research program Towards a Relational Architecture at UMA, and Architecture in Effect, strong RESEARCH environment funded by the Swedish Research council Formas 2011 - 2016.



Repeatable spatial formulas make most of the space in the world. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written in the language of this almost infrastructural spatial matrix. Administered by mixtures of state and non-state players and driven by profound irrationalities and dubious aspirations, infrastructure space generates de facto, undeclared forms of polity that can outpace law, and it is the secret weapon of some of the world's most powerful players.

Even at a moment of ubiquitous computing, Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space  considers space itself as an information system with the power and currency of software-a spatial operating system for shaping the city. With an experimental narrative structure, the book, moves between exposing evidence of infrastructure space and learning to hack this space with forms that offers surprising aesthetic pleasures and political capacities.

Studies of three global infrastructure platforms-the free zone, broadband in East Africa, and ISO's quality management-join contemplations about the dispositions, the ideological stories and the expanded repertoires of political activism that accompany infrastructure space.

Keller Easterling

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and professor at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. Another recent book, Subtraction (Sternberg Press, 2014), considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. An ebook essay, The Action is the Form: Victor Hugo's TED Talk (Strelka Press, 2012) previews some of the arguments in Extrastatecraft.

Other books include: Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) which researched familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world and Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999) which applied network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure. 

Easterling is also the co-author (with Richard Prelinger) of Call it Home: The House that Private Enterprise Built, a laserdisc/DVD history of US suburbia from 1934-1960. She has published web installations including: Extrastatecraft, Wildcards: a Game of Orgman and Highline: Plotting NYC. Easterling's research and writing was included in the 2014 Venice Biennale, and she has been exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the Rotterdam Biennale, and the Architectural League in New York. Easterling has lectured and published widely in the United States and abroad. The journals to which she has contributed include Domus, Artforum, Grey Room, Cabinet, Volume, Assemblage, e-flux, Log, Praxis, Harvard Design Magazine, Perspecta, and ANY.

Keller Easterling's lecture and roundtable is part of the PhD Research School lecture series and its PhD School seminar and its midterms: UMA PhD Research Seminar

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Interview with Keller Easterling:



Image Copenhagen Airport, 2012, Roemer van Toorn