Art, Tech & Culture

We Must Conjure Our Gods Before We Obey Them

Art, Tech & Culture
06 Nov, 2017

We Must Conjure Our Gods Before We Obey Them

Design has become so elastic it is applied universally from chromosomes to climate change. We design spoons and tables and rooms and houses and computer programs and cities and power grids and national identities and international treaties and defense systems and, when all else fails, military campaigns. If design is anything that is planned and brought to fruition by human ingenuity, we’ve reached the point where, as Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina aptly observe “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.” At the heart of it all is the deeply human desire for coherence. Coherence means simply figuring out how things stick together but since it’s we who are doing the sticking, the orders we create are a reflection of our own desires. Since there is so much design in the world, and so little un-designed, the coherences we conjure grow to assume the sheen of inevitability. Design solidifies, and naturalizes, things that start off as opinions, stories and traditions and so supplies the form to the fictions by which we live. But while we tend to think that design exists to serve us, the reverse is true: once established it’s almost impossible think outside the the systems and structures we create to frame our lives.

About Michael Rock

Michael Rock is a founding partner and creative director 2x4 Inc., a multi-disciplinary design studio in New York City, and Director of the Graphic Architecture Project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. At 2x4, he leads a wide range of projects for clients such as Nike, Prada, Kanye West, OMA-AMO, Calvin Klein, Target, Vitra, and Harvard Art Museum. Since 1991 he has been Adjunct Professor at the Yale School of Art and in 2016 was appointed Visiting Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His writing on design has appeared worldwide and he currently is a contributing design critic for the New York Times T Magazine. He is the recipient of the 1999 Rome Prize in design from the American Academy in Rome. In 2006, 2x4 received the National Design Award from the Smithsonian Institution. In 2008, the work of the studio was featured in a 12-month exhibition at MoMA. The catalogue/book "it is what it is" was released in 2010 and book of his writing, interviews and projects titled "Multiple Signatures" was published by Rizzoli in Spring of 2013. @MIcrocritique, an Instagram focused on politics and branding was launched in 2016.

About the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium

Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.


This year, we are excited to present World Without Mind with Frank Foer as part of the following series:

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities


09/25 World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech
Frank Foer, Journalist, New York
In partnership with the Graduate School of Journalism

10/23 Socially Engaged Internet-Art: Aesthetics of Information Ethics
Paolo Cirio, Artist, New York
In partnership with the Department of Art Practice

11/6 We must conjure our Gods before we obey them
Michael Rock, Designer, 2X4, New York
In partnership with the Department of Architecture & Urban Planning


01/29 Indexical Ambivalence
Kris Paulsen, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University, Ohio
In partnership with the History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series

02/05 Connectivity as Human Right
Nicholas Negroponte, Architect, MIT, Massachussetts
In partnership with the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

03/19 Yugoexport Is the Name of this Oral Corporation
Irena Haiduk, Artist, Belgrade, Serbia
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

04/09 new art, flag art, good art, portal art
Ian Cheng, Artist, Los Angeles
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

04/16 Regents Lecture 2018
Angela Davis, activist & scholar, UC Santa Cruz

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