Benjamin H. Bratton - 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
Benjamin H. Bratton, Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution, Sternberg Press, 2016. excerpt
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.
Benjamin H. Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, The MIT Press, 2016.
What has planetary-scale computation done to our geopolitical realities? In The Stack, Benjamin Bratton proposes that smart grids, cloud computing, mobile software and smart cities, universal addressing systems, ubiquitous computing, and other types of apparently unrelated planetary-scale computation can be viewed as forming a coherent whole -- an accidental megastructure called The Stack that is both a computational apparatus and a new geopolitical architecture.
This model, informed by the logic of the multilayered structure of software protocol "stacks," in which network technologies operate within a modular and vertical order, offers a platform for the design of complex systems -- including current and future political geographies that may supersede that of the increasingly "de-bordered" nation-state. In an account that is both theoretical and technical, drawing on political philosophy, architectural theory, and software studies, Bratton offers a design brief for a geopolitics with and for planetary-scale computation.
Bratton examines six interdependent layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User. Each is considered on its own terms and as a layer within a larger architecture. The Stack is made from hard and soft systems intermingling -- not only computational forms but also social, human, and concrete forces. The Stack offers a way to view the entire digital world, at once, enabling us to engage its challenges directly.
“In The Stack, Benjamin Bratton shows, with brilliant insight and imagination, what the world is coming to look like in an era of planetary-scale computing. He cuts through many received ideas about technology, globalization, and so forth and presents a fresh vision of the architecture of the world.”—McKenzie Wark
“Endlessly thought-provoking, this amazing book is both cognitive mapping and a projective geometry of the new dimensions of technological reality we live in.”—Kim Stanley Robinson
“The Stack is a major achievement. It is more than just philosophy of technology, software studies, or design criticism; it analyzes and guides our thinking in a baffling Anthropocenic era when computation works at the planetary scale and constitutes governance.”—Natalie Jeremijenko
“The Stack imagines a design brief for the whole world while floating or falling through all the ever-efflorescent plasmas and atmospheres of digital information.”—Keller Easterling
“This political geography of computation is a strange, marvelous text of great conceptual beauty. Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack breaks more new ground than a carpet bombing. The Stack itself may or may not exist, but it’s left everything that came before it in a state of rubble.”—Bruce Sterling
"Outing A.I.: Beyond the Turing Test", "The Black Stack", "The Image in the Age of Machine Vision," "On Extinction, Emergence and Biochemical Design," "Some Trace Effects of the Post-Anthropocene", "On Apps and Elementary Forms of Interfacial Life", "What We Do is Secrete: On Virilio, Planetarity and Data Visualization" , "Geoscapes & the Google Caliphate: On Mumbai Attacks", "Root the Earth: On Peak Oil Apohenia" and "Suspicious Images/ Latent Interfaces" (with Natalie Jeremijenko). More texts here.
Most recent selected lectures online include "We Need to Talk About TED" at TEDx San Diego; "The Black Stack" at Transmediale, Berlin; "The Stack: Design and Geopolitics in the Age of Planetary-Scale Computation" at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver; and a different version as "The Stack We Have and The Stack To Come: Designing Sovereignty and the Geopolitics of Computation" at Fall Semester, Miami, "Accidental Geopolitics" at The Guardian Summit; Recent Interviews with Bratton include: in The Guardian, with Metahaven in Print, with Calit2, DIS, and Kerb. View videos of the many lectures and discussions from the first two D:GP conferences, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. More lectures here.