Philipp Lachenmann: DELPHI Rationale


Superhumanity at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial

29.09.2016, Berlin | What forms of life are currently being designed? “Superhumanity” is an online publication project by e-flux Architecture, initiated by Nikolaus Hirsch and Anton Vidokle (e-flux) in collaboration with Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley (curators of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial 2016), and in cooperation with Ernst Schering Foundation. In “The Obligation to Self-Design” (e-flux journal, 2008), Boris Groys traces a possible genealogy of design from the design of the soul and the design of the self to “the design of life as a whole” as the very means of realizing a political project. Reading Groys in reverse, we could say that design constructs the project of life, understood as a political act. “Superhumanity” will introduce contributions from different fields that explore the intimate and fundamental relationship between the concepts of “design” and “the human” provoked by the Biennial's theme: Are We Human? Contributions will initially appear online at, within the Biennial itself, and subsequently as a book.


The question of design has never been more urgent. Today, the field of design has radically expanded – “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 the manifesto of the Biennial puts it. In the words of the Biennial's curators Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina, “design has become the world.” “Superhumanity” aims to explore the radical implications of the idea that we are and have always been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape.

If we assume the merging of art and design with life to be total, perhaps we have never been more human than we are today. As Hito Steyerl writes in “Art as Occupation: Claims for an Autonomy of Life” (e-flux journal, 2011): “On all levels of everyday activity, art [as well as design and architecture] not only invades life, but occupies it. This doesn’t mean that it’s omnipresent. It just means that it has established a complex topology of both overbearing presence and gaping absence—both of which impact daily life.”

The project includes over fifty writers, scientists, artists, architects, designers, philosophers, historians, archeologists, and anthropologists. Contributions will be published online at every other day from mid-September and continue through the end of the year. “Superhumanity” will also be exhibited as a part of the Istanbul Design Biennial at DEPO from October 22 to November 20.

Superhumanity at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial


Further Information

Exhibition photographs

Event recording

Event photographs

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Editors: Beatriz Colomina, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anton Vidokle, Mark Wigley
Deputy Editor: Nick Axel

Confirmed participants include: Lucia Allais, Julieta Aranda, Shumon Basar, Ruha Benjamin, Franco 'Bifo' Berardi, Daniel Birnbaum & Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Ina Blom, Benjamin H. Bratton, Giuliana Bruno, Zeynep Çelik Alexander, Tony Chakar, Mark Cousins, Keller Easterling, Ruben Gallo, Liam Gillick, Joseph Grima, Boris Groys, Rupali Gupte & Prasad Shetty, Güven Güzeldere, Andrew Herscher, Tom Holert, Brooke Holmes, Hu Fang, Francesca Hughes, Andrés Jaque, Lydia Kallipoliti, Tom Keenan, Brian Kuan Wood, Laura Kurgan, Sanford Kwinter, Adrian Lahoud, Sylvia Lavin, Tom Levin, Lesley Lokko, MAP Office, Chus Martínez, Ingo Niermann, Ahmet Ögüt, Trevor Paglen, Spyros Papapetros, Paul Preciado, Raqs Media Collective, Juliane Rebentisch, Sophia Roosth, Martha Rosler, Felicity Scott, Jack Self, Hito Steyerl, Kali Stull & Etienne Turpin, Pelin Tan, Alexander Tarakhovsky, Paulo Tavares, Territorial Agency, Stephan Trüby, Eyal Weizman, Mabel O. Wilson, Liam Young, and Arseny Zhilyaev & Anton Vidokle.

Superhumanity is produced in cooperation with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand, and the Ernst Schering Foundation, Berlin.

Abb: © 2011 Natsumi Hayashi


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