We need a new vocabulary!

The study of infrastructure is dominated by discourses of “soft” and “hard”, “visible” and “invisible”. These terms constrict us into older conversations about mind/body, materiality/abstraction, modern/not-modern, and West/Non-West. We are trying to find a new way to “speak” and therefore “act”. This project is about rethinking how we talk about, envision, and therefore design infrastructures.

To organize our work, and start a process of generating ideas, every contributor invented 4-5 “concepts” to define their infrastructure. We then organized all these many terms into clusters or “threads”. We wanted to demonstrate unifying global media conditions while insisting on the irreducibility and specificity of each case study, structure, subjectivity, and body.

Each project is different. Often we disagreed about content, method, practice, and goals. What we hope is that out of the differences and contradictions in our thinking and making practices we can begin a conversation about developing new methods and strategies at the intersection of the humanities, design, and the social sciences to help us envision and build more equitable and humane futures.

Here is what we came up with so far (more coming!)…


Affect        Cadence    Momentum        Parasites       Precarity   

     Preemption        Residue      Restlessness         Spectrality       

the Uncanny


Dogs             Water              Cars            Space

Freeform    Bandwidth    Noise    Distortion

Schizophonic    Reliance   Fortune    Self        

Fear           Disgust        Lullaby           Pitch

Onomatopoeia      Chameleon     Possession   

Transference          Ghost            Horror           

Cultural  Diversity           Scenius           Schmetrics

Recipro/city      Adept/ation        Void      

STATE-US          EXCLUSIVITY       SPECTACLE          AMPLIFICATION           Shutdown    Sabotage   Vulnerabilities                      Rupture