We live in a time when everything is designed, from our 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...
Even the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.
There is no longer an outside to the world of design. Design has become the world. — Istanbul Design Biennial
Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, the curators of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, announced the conceptual framework for next year's biennial in a press release held today in a library of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
Its overlong title, ARE WE HUMAN?: The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years, indicates primary conceptual concerns: the omnipresence of design, or the world as a designed object; the category of the human, alongside and contra that of the animal; and an expanded temporal focus that "spans from the last 2 seconds to the last 200,000 years."
"Design always presents itself as serving the human but its real ambition is to redesign the human," the curators state in the press release. "The history of design is therefore a history of evolving conceptions of the human. To talk about design is to talk about the state of our species."
Rather than celebrate particular designers or imagine speculative futures, the biennial will be an "archaeological project," striving to document, across multiple media, a contemporary context where "everyday reality has outpaced science fiction." This extremity of the present will be considered within an extended purview, from "the footprints of the first shoes to the latest digital and carbon footprints."
Invited designers and thinkers will be asked to consider these eight, interlinked propositions:
Alongside commissioned projects such as events and workshops, the biennial will include an open call for short video responses to these propositions. Details of the open call will be announced on February 1, 2016.
Andrés Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation will design the exhibition architecture, intended to serve as "clusters of interactive clouds for reflection and discussion." Rather than a singular and cohesive branding strategy, a number of emerging Turkish designers will create an array of material that will be dispersed throughout the city.
"Design is what makes the human. It is the basis of social life, from the very first artefacts to the exponential expansion of human capability," Colomina and Wigely state. "But design also engineers inequalities and new forms of neglect. More people than ever in history are forcibly displaced by war, lawlessness, poverty, and climate at the same time that the human genome and the weather are being actively redesigned."
"We can no longer reassure ourselves with the idea of 'good design,'" they continue. "Design needs to be redesigned.”