Collection: Designing Methods

Author(s) Shannon Mattern

How do we understand our media as texts, objects, publics, commodities, imaginaries, systems, environments, and so forth? Given the elasticity of the media concept, and the dynamic nature of the subject, how do we frame good questions and choose appropriate methods for studying media — and how do we select appropriate venues for sharing that research? This Library Stack Collection, which complements Shannon Mattern’s Spring 2018 Designing Methodologies for Media Studies class at The New School, includes resources that exemplify widely diverse means of studying media.

About the Creators

Shannon Mattern is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. You can find her at

Every time you connect to the internet, you pass through time, space, and law. Information is sent out from your computer all over the world, and sent back from there. This information is stored and tracked in multiple locations, and used to make decisions about you, and determine your rights. These decisions are made by people, companies, countries and machines, in many countries and legal jurisdictions. Citizen Ex shows you where those places are. Your Algorithmic Citizenship is how you appear to the internet, as a collection of data extending across many nations, with a different citizenship and different rights in every place. One day perhaps we will all live like we do on the internet. Until then, there’s Citizen Ex.

Saga provides a basic framework to self-host media, track where it lands online through a back-end interface, and make discrete, time-based alterations to the work. When you self-host your work and publish it using the Saga framework, every distinct plot where your work is shown becomes your space. You can choose to manipulate that space at your leisure, and those who share your work assume that risk when they choose to show it. If someone posts your work next to something you don’t like, then say something, or obscure your work with a graphic expression. If someone is profiting from selling ads next to your work, charge them whatever you see fit for continuing to show it. For Tumblr teens in the UK only, make the first 500 plays free, and then have it dramatically self-destruct, or have it replaced with a video of cattle grazing. If you agree with someone who posted your work, the work can be used as a channel to communicate that. Saga offers you the foundation for those possibilities, today. Release 1.0, presented here, comes with some template expressions, graciously designed by Other Means, and installation documentation that will be updated with answers to any questions that come up in the next few months.

SUFI PLUG INS is an interdisciplinary project by Jace Clayton. Version 1 is a free suite of music-making software apps, based on nonwestern notions of sound & a poetic interface.

Unfold is an online publishing and archiving platform based upon the structure of the digital folder. Conceived by different guest curators, every issue of Unfold explores a selected topic through constellations of research materials and new commissions to artists and writers. One after the other, the various installments will be archived to form a comprehensive and trans-disciplinary library. Unfold has an experimental vocation and believes in the free circulation of art and knowledge. Therefore all materials in Unfold blend genres and are available for free download and online consultation.

Real Flow is an ongoing collaboration between Diann Bauer, Victoria Ivanova, Christopher Kulendran-Thomas and Suhail Malik. We do R&D of finance and art. Real Flow offers tailor-made financial solutions for contemporary art by crossing the now wholly permeable and artificially-maintained barriers between art’s markets, markets in general, and art’s flexible and porous semantics. Re-engineering the artwork’s commodity form, this venture tactically integrates art into its diverse channels of exhibition, circulation, and marketization. Financialization’s futurity is operationalized by Real Flow to reconstitute art’s future present and open up new vistas through and beyond capital.

Shaping Technologies brings together a host of original writing and images on these and other themes by a collection of writers, theorists, critics, photographers, philosophers, engineers, activists, artists, media practitioners and programmers from all over the world. It also excavates and connects little known histories with our present reality, finding, for instance, in Rabindranath Tagore’s account of being airborne in 1934, an oblique way of reflecting on the consequences of aerial bombardment, the dehumanising mindset that implodes when the pious do battle, and the prospects of a war that threatens to break over Iraq, even as this book goes to press…

The MEDIUM issue was produced with Tate Liverpool’s fall 2014 season Making Things Public, where The Serving Library‘s collection of artifacts ( was installed with two related exhibitions: Transmitting Andy Warhol and Gretchen Bender.

A super-computational grid overlaying the earth’s surface, an all-seeing, oating ecosystem, an Uber-planet, an internet of things in which the things are us, is recording and storing our every movement. We subscribe to it—willingly providing it with our data. By the same token, our immersion in the permanence of the informational mayhem is flooding us with fictions. On the one hand, theoretically, the permanent input channel of billions of facts per second—GPS coordinates, heartbeats, selfies, currency fluctuations, etc.— into the super-computational megastructure, is always pushing for a transparent world. In that world “truth” would cease to be a word because there would be records of everything. On the other hand, the database could never completely suppress…

The idea of collective mind is as old as the most ancient forms of spirituality and political philosophy — before Asimov, in 1982, nally decided to send it to govern planet Gaia. The concept of ‘cognitive capitalism’ is evolving too, in face of the new machines of augmented intelligence and the new cults of Arti cial Intelligence. This concept was useful to push a cognitive turn within political economy around 2000, when postmodern philosophy was still attracted by and discovering the linguistic turn of knowledge society…

The Stack we have means: borderlines are rewritten, dashed, curved, erased, automated; algorithms count as continental divides; the opposition of chthonic versus geometric territory is collapsed by computation; interfaces upon interfaces accumulate into networks, which accumulate into territories, which accumulate into geoscapes (territories comprising territories, made and so entered into, not entered into and so made); the embedded is mobilized and the liquid is tethered down into shelter and infrastructure; the flat, looping planes of jurisdiction multiply and overlap into towered, interwoven stacks; the opaque is transcribed and the transparent is staged, dramatized, and artificialized; irregular allegiances are formalized (the enclave and exclave, for diasporic and satellite expatriates); both futurist and medievalist scenarios con scate, one from another, the program of supercomputational utopias; and the incomplete(able) comprehensiveness of Earth’s archives is folded back on itself as a promiscuous, ambient geopolitics of consumable electrons.

Ruben Pater, working under the name Untold Stories, describes his work as creating “visual narratives about geopolitical issues” and creating “new relations between journalism and design”. He most recently is the author of the book, The Politics of Design, where Pater explores the cultural and political context of the typography, colors, photography, symbols, and information graphics that we use every day. In this conversation, I talk with Ruben about the book and the relationship between design and journalism, showcasing his process as the artifact, the importance of studying design outside of the traditional Western canon, and why he still calls himself a designer.

ШєƖ⊂σṃє ʈσ ʈңє ďσẘ␤σαď ρα⅁є ғσΓ ʈңє Ĥ∪ṃαи 尺єαďαӸє Ƭƴρє
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Ƭңє ғįƖє ʪ θρєи Ƨσ∪Γ₠˛ αиď ∪ρďαʈє§ ẘįƖƖ ♭є ρσ§ʈєď ℁ ʈңєƴ σ⊂℆Γ.


ZXX is a disruptive typeface that is unreadable by OCR text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker) — misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence. I drew six different cuts (Sans, Bold, Camo, False, Noise and Xed) to generate endless permutations, each font designed to thwart machine intelligences in a different way. Developed by Sang Mun

Facial recognition technology turns your face into code that can be archived and traded among strange and suspect parties. Its growing sophistication in the hands of law enforcement poses a particular threat to anonymous dissent. Civil rights groups are already forecasting a near future where police use of facial recognition to track protesters will discourage people from hitting the streets.

We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself – but in the end “we” own it! By establishing this autocannibalistic model we deconstruct the new global advertisment mechanisms by rendering them into a surreal click-based economic model.

There is no doubt that we live in exciting times: Ours is the age of many ‘silent revolutions’ triggered by startups and research labs of big IT companies; revolutions that quietly and profoundly alter the world we live in. Another ten or five years, and self-tracking will be as normal and inevitable as having a Facebook account or a mobile phone. Our bodies, hooked to wearable devices sitting directly at or beneath the skin, will constantly transmit data to the big aggregation in the cloud. Permanent recording and automatic sharing will provide unabridged memory, both shareable and analyzable. The digitization of everything will allow for comprehensive quantification; predictive analytics and algorithmic regulation will prove themselves effective and indispensable ways to govern modern mass society. Given such prospects, it is neither too early to speculate on the possible futures of digital media nor too soon to remember how we expected it to develop ten, or twenty years ago.

In this episode of Urbanomic’s Yarncast series, architect and theorist Eyal Weizman discusses his Forensic Architecture project (, and explains why the defence of victims of state violence demands a counterforensics that introduces new types of evidence, new modes of intervention, and operates outside the courtroom, generating new public forums.

“The book itself has its genesis in the Crisis/Media Workshop that was jointly organized in Delhi by Sarai-CSDS, Delhi and the Waag Society, Amsterdam, a year ago in March 2003. The concept, outlined in the workshop publication by Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Geert Lovink, was a response to 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan, the violence in Gujarat and the Kargil war. Over 3 days, participants from many different parts of South Asia and the world gathered to debate and dissect the relationship between the notion of crisis and the media, exactly one year after Gujarat had gone up in flames, and just as the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ was gearing up to bomb Baghdad. The process of editing the Reader only confirmed what we felt that the workshop had already set in motion – an unruly but very necessary set of forays into the realm of ‘the unspeakable’. Our contributors were opening out new spaces for dialogue, not only by inaugurating discussion on things that had hitherto been left unsaid, but also in the way that different elements were speaking to each other. Our task was to enable this conversation to interrupt itself, to make all sorts of unruly connections, to foster linkages between disparate truths and conflicting claims to attention…”

“Beyond New Media Art” is the revised, updated version of a book first published in Italian with the title “Media, New Media, Postmedia” in 2010. Through the circulation of excerpts, reviews and interviews, the book produced some debate outside of Italy, which persuaded the author to release, three years later, this English translation. “Beyond New Media Art” is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called “New Media Art” in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history. On the other hand, this book is also an attempt to suggest new critical and curatorial strategies to turn this marginalization into a thing of the past, and to stress the topicality of art addressing the media and the issues of the information age.

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