This talk proposes that design is inherent to Michel Foucault’s work on the dispositif (apparatus) and governmentality. In particular, the lecture examines how the strategic coordination of heterogeneities in an apparatus is the result of a governmental design strategy. In so doing, the talk also makes strong connections to Alfred North Whitehead’s work on “sociality” in an effort to expand and deepen Foucault’s own conception of how heterogeneous forces are “steered” or “designed” to converge to achieve particular ends.
With this reframing not only does design become the conceptual bridge between the “art” and “rationality” of government in Foucault—the “design” of government— but it also becomes central to understanding how contemporary technologies of computational governance shape human and nonhuman practices at various scales through its design of apparatuses. The lecture concludes by examining how governmental design intervenes in current design discourse by speculatively reframing not only the spatial and temporal scales at which design operates but also what (non-human) “design thinking” really means in an era of computational governance.
Adam Nocek is an assistant professor in the philosophy of technology and science and technology studies in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering and the Design School at Arizona State University (ASU). He is also the founding director of the Center for Philosophical Technologies at ASU. Nocek has published widely on the philosophy of media and science, speculative philosophy (especially Whitehead), design philosophy, and on critical and speculative theories of computational media. Nocek is the co-editor of The Lure of Whitehead and has just completed a manuscript titled, Molecular Capture: Biology, Animation, and Governance. Nocek is currently working on two book projects: the first project addresses computational governance and the emergence of new regimes of design expertise, and the second project reimagines the role of mythology within speculative design philosophy. Nocek is also a visiting researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Study and is The Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) Visiting Professor.