(edited by) Liam Young – Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post Anthropocene


Wiley, ISBN-13: 978-1119453017, English, 136 pages, 2019, UK

This issue of AD is a timely one and a visual feast to understand an ‘architecture without people’ which is “made for and by our machines”, in Young’s words. It is extremely well edited and developed around a solid concept, epitomised by the data centre. The aesthetic appeal of the latter has been explored by various artists over the past decade, including Ivar Veermäe in his “Crystal Computing (Google Inc., St. Ghislain)”, and Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon in their “World Brain”, but its importance has grown over time. The vast insignificance of the places hosting them, and the enormous importance of the immense amount of data stored there, as Young defines it, is a “portrait of human history”, which is fascinatingly portrayed in John Gerrard’s photographs. The issue focuses on “productive engagement with the nonhuman world” and includes some stellar contributions: The post-anthroposcene of Benjamin Bratton, Trevor Paglen’s images that “look at us”, Adam Harvey’s Hyphen-Labs “HyperFace“ scarfs, designed to fool facial recognition, the autonomous algorithms moving walls of containers in Geoff Manaugh’s account and Xingzhe Liu photographs of Sichuan’s Bitcoin mines, among others, perfectly depict these ‘machine landscapes’ with all the striking contradictions attached. This issue is meant to be a conceptual atlas, and this is exactly what it accomplishes.