The field of design has radically expanded. As a practice, design is no longer limited to the world of material objects, but rather extends from carefully crafted individual looks and online identities, to the surrounding galaxies of personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures, data, chemicals, organisms, and genetic codes, as Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, curators of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, put it in their manifesto (). Our response to the Biennial’s theme—Are We Human?—draws from “The Obligation to Self-Design” (e-flux Journal 0), a text by Boris Groys in which a genealogy of design is traced from the design of the soul and the design of the self to "the design of life as a whole." Superhumanity seeks to explore and challenge our understanding of “design” by engaging with and departing from the concept of the “self.” Superhumanity aims to probe the idea that we are and always have been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape, to which we ask: who designed the lives we live today? What are the forms of life we inhabit, and what new forms are currently being designed? Where are the sites, and what are the techniques, to design others? Over fifty writers, scientists, artists, architects, designers, philosophers, historians, archeologists and anthropologists will bring new insight to these and related questions.

In addition to online publication, a Superhumanity reading room was exhibited from October 22 to November 20 at DEPO (Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12, Tophane 34425 İstanbul) as a part of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial.

e-flux Architecture collaborated with the Royal College of Art School of Architecture to produce a series of responses to Superhumanity texts on e-flux conversations. To view the responses, click here.

On March 22, 2017, Superhumanity manifested at Artista x Artista in Havana, Cuba for a series of talks on the legacy of revolution. For more information, click here.

On October 28–29, 2017, Superhumanity manifested at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea for a series of talks on Post-Labor, Psychopathology, and Plasticity. For more information, click here.

In 2018, thanks to support from the Graham Foundation, the original fifty contributions were published by the University of Minnesota Press as Superhumanity: Design of the Self.

Deputy Editor
Nick Axel

Image Editor
Mariana Silva

Superhumanity is a project by e-flux Architecture at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, produced in cooperation with the Istanbul Design Biennial, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand, and the Ernst Schering Foundation.

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62 essays
Mark Wasiuta
Psychotropic Air A narcotic nimbus floats above us. As revealed in the 2012 report “Airborne Psychotropic Substances Monitored in Eight Big...
Arisa Ema
How will the use of artificial intelligence (AI) affect the workplace and daily life? There is a pessimistic view that “AI creates social...
Jaehee Kim
With the emergence of information technology and cybernetics, it became possible to see humans and machines within the same information conveyance...
Erik and Ronald Rietveld
I’m not interested in living in a fantasy world … What interests me is what the world would be like if we were free of conventional limits....
In the 1950s, the famous American psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim treated an autistic boy named “Joey.” After ceasing all communication with the...
Hannah Proctor
A lot of people say that after they punch a wall they feel a lot better, but their hand is broken. —David Wojnarowicz 1 On June 14,...
1. Dialectics of Living and Dead Labor In “Fragment on Machines,” Marx made the case that with investment in automated technology, which he...
Chin Jungkwon
The Extinction of the Magic Circle In Homo Ludens , Johan Huizinga writes that “civilization arises and unfolds in and as play.” According...
Common Accounts
Death is a plastic force. Operating through communication channels and grounded in a culture of image sharing, domestic spin-off technologies in...
The question of “superhumanity” presupposes that there might exist something other than the human in the human, a presupposition that might be as...
Nick Axel, Beatriz Colomina, Nikolaus Hirsch, Jihoi Lee, Anton Vidokle, and Mark Wigley
e-flux Architecture is pleased to announce the return of Superhumanity , in collaboration with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary...
Nick Axel, Beatriz Colomina, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anton Vidokle, and Mark Wigley
Humanity has always been a design problem. A problem of whose future is sculpted by design. Of the shape of its user. Its actual interface....
Thomas Keenan
Perhaps you have been struck by the frequency and regularity with which people find it necessary to state what one might think was the most...
Superimposed memories in the soil of postcolonial Korea In 1936, amidst the Japanese occupation of Korea, a Japanese kaibatsu corporation...
I want to tell you a story I recently heard about a friend in New York—actually a friend of a friend, a young architect and entrepreneur named...
Sophia Roosth
Life is not what it used to be. Living things bearing genomes pared down, streamlined, or cobbled together from bits of synthesized DNA now...
Kali Stull and Etienne Turpin
Nothing can hold out against civilization and the power of industry. The only animal species to survive will be those that industry multiplies....
Stephan Trüby
The rise of right-wing populist, anti-liberal, and authoritarian political alternatives has brought a renewed attention to architecture. In...
Anthropogeny is the study of human origins, of how something that was not quite human becomes human. It considers what enables and curtails us...
It was 2016, and the scales of territories, cities, buildings, animals, plants and human started to simultaneously expand and contract. Proximity...
Pale light could be seen coming from gaps in a large, low building. A simple clarity had been disturbed. True size was hard to read. The function...
Anton Vidokle and Arseny Zhilyaev
Anton Vidokle: When Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley (the curators of the Istanbul Design Biennial) told me the subject of the show—the question...
Chapter 1 As I scan the fields below I see her, in the corner of my lens. She is playing below, in a town I have never heard of, in a place I...
Franco “Bifo” Berardi
1. Cognitive Automation and Engineering of the Self “Observing his subatomic self … no chronology was stable.” —Jonathan Franzen,...
Creative Destruction and Cybernetic History I saw the future. It was empty. A clean slate, flat, designed through and through. In...
Mark Cousins
My question is not “What is a human being?” but a smaller question, one that isn’t frequently asked but one that turns out to be important to...
In the first three months of 2016, the number of wealthy Chinese couples hiring fertility and surrogacy gestation services at US-based clinics...
Ahmet Öğüt
There was a period shortly before the third end when a group of mechatronic engineers were incredibly productive. It didn’t last long, but we...
Paulo Tavares
In 1986, during a flight over southwest Amazonia, the geographer Alceu Ranzi noticed a huge geometric earthwork cut through the middle of a vast...
Francesca Hughes
If to err is human, to design corrective systems is all the more so. When in 1962 Ivan Sutherland designed the first drafting program that would...
Over the past twelve months, two international initiatives have been closely watched because they appear to set the terms for a new, globally...
It’s just been scientifically proven that ducks have abstract thinking. 1 The discovery neither alters nor surprises ducks, since they’ve known...
Jack Self
If you spot a “throbber,” you’ve probably got an issue with your hardware. These small digital animations, more commonly known as buffer icons,...
The 1990s were dominated by debates about postmodernism, one strand of which was concerned with the so called “aestheticization of the life...
Alexander Tarakhovsky
"There are no depths. Appearance is the summary of phenomena." —Joseph Brodsky Life on Earth is a narrative written by the...
Spyros Papapetros
Per Frederick Kiesler, design is born from a crocodile—a reptile caged inside the architect’s genealogical table alongside a solitary piece of...
1 I saw the white light through the monitor of my mobile phone—a burst of white light that spread from the upper-left corner of the frame the...
Ingo Niermann
The New Old Gentry Housing is meant to make our lives more comfortable from the outside. Besides walls that protect us from hostile...
Giuliana Bruno
“Are we human?” 1 A possible way to answer this question is to ask someone who is not human. So let me ask a “replicant.” This, you may recall,...
Rubén Gallo
There is something elusive about the term “design.” English dictionaries tell us the word comes from French, French dictionaries point to an...
Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty
One morning, while a man busied himself opening his shop, Design and Accident entered into a conversation. Design proclaimed: “I have created...
Tony Chakar
I You burn me —Sappho, addressing passion A song from my childhood, by Fairuz, Lebanon’s most famous singer, goes like this:...
Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein
I was thinking of a book, but I didn’t like that idea. —Marcel Duchamp 1 Posthumous books are published, why not a posthumous show?...
Felicity D. Scott
Speaking at the Conference on Space Manufacturing Facilities (Space Colonies) at Princeton University in May 1975, German-American aerospace...
As of September 2016, “Brangelina” was no more. That most super-famous of celebrity portmanteaus—Brad + Angelina—which began in 2005, during...
If I am not drowned or killed trying to escape in the next few days, I hope to write two books. I shall entitle them Apology for Survivors and...
In 1936, the equation wasn’t yet common knowledge and it was still decades before you could look things up on a search engine. 1 If you forgot...
Man is alone, desperately scraping out the music of his own skeleton, without father, mother, family, love, god or society. And no living being...
Ina Blom
Some twenty years ago, the effects of an expanding regime of design were starting to be felt in the field of contemporary art. Increasingly,...
Lydia Kallipoliti
When Aristophanes was summoned in Plato’s symposium to speak of eros ( έρως ), he reverted to the root of human nature, the bodily reality of...
The first and sometimes last thing an architect designs is himself. Andrea Palladio was born Andrea Di Petro della Gondola in 1508, and only...
Self-directed Exit Education They called me a ‘snob,’ which, obviously, left me overjoyed. I was inventing culture for myself, and at the...
Field Note Excerpt I: By Invitation Only Harvard Medical School (Boston, Massachusetts, USA), May 10, 2016. Anticipation was in the...
Eyal Weizman
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—the period when the conceptual framework of the “state of nature” reshaped moral, legal and...
Zeynep Çelik Alexander
If we contemplate any natural object, especially any part of animated nature, fully and in all its bearings, we can arrive only at this...
I’ve long thought that conventional understandings of geography were a little too “horizontal”. That geographical concepts such as production,...
Mabel O. Wilson
This “space of Otherness” line of nonhomogeneity had then functioned to validate the socio-ontological line now drawn between rational,...
Andrew Herscher
Apparently nobody wants to know that contemporary history has created a new kind of human being—the kind that are put in concentration camps by...
Brooke Holmes
The idea of self-design is a paradox. Or, to put it more accurately, the idea of self-design will be a paradox if the self involved is understood...
Keller Easterling
It is probably a mistake to elevate those attributes of the homo sapiens nervous system that long for the right answer, the unified field, the...
The field of design has radically expanded. As a practice, design is no longer limited to the world of material objects, but rather extends from...
Category
Humanism, Posthumanism, Psychology & Psychoanalysis, Design, Labor & Work, Technology

Superhumanity is a project by e-flux Architecture at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, produced in cooperation with the Istanbul Design Biennial, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand, and the Ernst Schering Foundation.

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