Benjamin Bratton’s work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of The Terraforming programme at Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) and NYU Shanghai. He is the author of several books, including The Revenge of The Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (Verso Press), which sees the pandemic as a crisis of governance and argues for a positive biopolitics; The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press) which developed a comprehensive political philosophy of planetary-scale computation; Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/Sternberg), a collection of speculative fictions on architecture, violence and utopia; and The Terraforming (Strelka Press) which considers the role of astronomy, automation and artificiality in post-Anthropocenic urbanism. His current book project explores the concept of the artifical and the synthetic in AI, Earth sciences, linguistics, perception, cities, and ecosystems.
Statement Benjamin H. Bratton:
COVID-19 exposed the pre-existing conditions of the current global crisis. Many Western states failed to protect their populations, while others were able to suppress the virus only with sweeping social restrictions. In contrast, many Asian countries were able to make much more precise interventions. Everywhere, lockdown transformed everyday life, introducing an epidemiological view of society based on sensing, modeling, and filtering. There are many lessons to be learned.
The Revenge of the Real envisions a new positive biopolitics that recognizes that governance is literally a matter of life and death. We are grappling with multiple interconnected dilemmas—climate change, pandemics, the tensions between the individual and society—all of which have to be addressed on a planetary scale. Even when separated, we are still enmeshed. Can the world govern itself differently? Other models and philosophies are needed, ones that understand society as epidemiological, that affirm the ethics of the object, and that that move beyond surveillance as the only framework for thinking about how society can sense and model itself. Instead of thinking of biotechnologies as something imposed on society, we must see them as essential to a politics of infrastructure, knowledge, and direct intervention. In this way, we can build a society based on a new rationality of inclusion, care, and prevention.