The book is best when sampled rather than read sequentially. It is a mega-primer, an appetite-wetter. Its essays introduce seemingly every theorist imaginable: Donna Haraway, Rosalind Williams, David Harvey, Neil Smith, Bruno Latour, Gilbert Ryle, Gregory Bateson, Gabriel Tarde, Erik Swyngedouw, Sigfried Giedion, and more. In this sense, the book is both satisfying and frustrating. In this time of 280-word opinions and twenty-minute conference talks, and sometimes even 280-word commentaries on twenty-minute talks, I crave something in-depth and cohesive.
Having closed the pages, I am still left wondering if the many thoughtful essays build on each other and what exactly the categories mean. How is a thing different from a network or from an agent? I can answer this question abstractly, but I struggle at points within the book. I am excited about the projects, examples, and ideas, but the editors needed to synthesize, to draw connections, and put forth guidelines. The collective interests in politics and design hold the volume together, but perhaps the content is too diverse to be considered within a single cover. So, mine the table of contents—and enjoy the quick reads over slow time. Avoid overwrought structure and revel in the aesthetic and critical experience that the book so compellingly demands of itself and of its subject: the spaces of infrastructure.
OMA, Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau, ed. Jennifer Sigler, S,M,L,XL (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995).
Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd, eds., Infrastructure as Architecture: Designing Composite Networks (Berlin: Jovis 2010).