Virtual Public Lecture: John May, “Rules for the Electronic Zoo”

A white man, John Logie Baird, is looking into his mechanical television which is made of a series of wires and moving circles.

The original television model, invented by the Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird, (1888 - 1946). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The GSD is pleased to present a series of talks and webinars broadcast to our audiences via Zoom.

*This lecture will be ONLINE ONLY. For security reasons, virtual attendees must register. Scroll down to find complete instructions for how to register.

Event Description

This is meant as a brief pause, amidst the gathering weight of pressing institutional deadlines and professional decisions, to reflect on the historical and theoretical conditions around our deepened dependence on real-time electronic images, and to connect those reflections to practical realities in the present.

A passing glance at the technical history of computational images reveals that we have not suddenly found ourselves living on our screens. Long before Covid-19, it was possible to declare: we already see with electronic images; we already think and act and live by way of them. The ongoing pandemic exaggerates and magnifies this fact, but also reveals it as a preexisting condition—in the design fields, and in culture more broadly—with extensive psychosocial, political and environmental consequences.

We know now that life will not suddenly “return to normal.” But life must be lived, and decisions made, individually and collectively. If our ideas are inseparable from the media through which we express ourselves, the task of articulating our near-future must be undertaken as more than a set of managerial protocols, so that we might press into deeper intellectual regions, into questions of knowledge, life and mediation.


John May is founding partner in MILLIØNS, a Los Angeles-based design practice, and author of Signal. Image. Architecture. (Columbia, 2019). He is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Co-Director of the Master in Design Studies program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


How to Join

1. Have a Zoom account. Members of the Harvard community who have not yet set up their Zoom account can follow the instructions here. Guests without a Zoom account can set one up for free at

2. Register to attend the lecture here. Once you have registered, you will be provided with a link to join the lecture via Zoom. This link will also be emailed to you. Please make sure the email you use to register is the same email connected to your Zoom account.

The event will also be live streamed to the GSD’s YouTube page. Only viewers who are attending the lecture via Zoom will be able to submit questions for the Q+A.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].