80 Washington Square East, NYU

Keller Easterling with WET

Reverse Engineering

August 29, 2023 6:30pm


7pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm) 

Reverse Engineering, a conversation with Keller Easterling and Workshop for Environmental Technik (WET) coincides with Breach (July 6–September 2, 2023), an exhibition that draws from an online repository of digitized materials by and about the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Reverse Engineering workshops an ecology of techniques, from the global militarized environments of racial capital, war, and empire to the patchy survival and endurance of others. By definition, reverse engineering is a method of learning how something works. If engineering substantiates a designed condition, its reversal entails a systematic opening—one that is simultaneously a deconstruction and reconstruction that discloses inner processes and implicit bounds. 

In practice, the knowledge extracted from this reversal is usually applied to (re)produce models and designs for buttressing the catastrophic systems of contemporary life … but could it offer repair and reparation? 

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and the Enid Storm Dwyer Professor of Architecture at Yale. Her most recent book Medium Design: Knowing How To Work on the World (Verso, 2021) considers not only the design of things but the design of the way things go together. Another recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines global infrastructure as a medium of polity. Other books include: Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) which researched familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world. Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999) which applied network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure, and Subtraction (Sternberg, 2014), which considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. Easterling is also the co-author (with Richard Prelinger) of Call it Home, a laserdisc/DVD history of US suburbia from 1934-1960. Her research and writing was included in the 2014 and 2018 Venice Biennales. Easterling is a 2019 United States Artist in Architecture and Design.