Gaby Peters  
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  Julia Höner // KAI 10 Düsseldorf // excerpt from: Thing Dynamics // In: Gaby Peters, Nina Nowak (Eds.),
Thingness – über die Dinge, publication accompanying the exhibition at Künstlerhaus Dortmund, 2016

“[...] The thing has remained at the forefront of material culture for a number of years now, and [...] it is yet to show signs of exhaustion. But where does this overwhelming desire to get to the bottom of things, which continues to dominate academic enquiry and exhibition praxis, come from? One of the reasons, no doubt, is the huge increase in production of both material and immaterial commodities throughout the twentieth century, and its further acceleration as the digital revolution continues to gather pace. Data and goods overwhelm our planet, and whether they outlive us as heirlooms or are instantly discarded having immediately outlived their usefulness, their existence somehow remains endless. [...] The conditions of ecological and social production, and the resource-friendly handling of goods of all kinds, is now taken into consideration, reflecting our attempts “to understand the convoluted thingness which surrounds us”1 and to keep the obstinacy of the object world in check. [...]

A completely different (but still field-trained) perspective is adopted by Bruno Latour. For the political philosopher, dealing with things involves more than the accumulation of

  knowledge about what they are made of and how they’re used. Instead, Latour reveals the parts things play in actions normally assigned to humans. Using road traffic man- agement as an example, he explains that acting is not limited to highly technologized devices that allow us to run our lives on autopilot, such as self-driving cars or cheerfully chattering domestic appliances, but also to quiet, comparably primitive devices which have an immense impact on us, such as the speed bumps we often encounter in traffic-calming areas. Speed bumps, also commonly known as sleeping policemen, embody legal norms, transport policy and technical concepts. Latour destabilises the conception of acting as being something exclusively human, instead favouring an entanglement of complicity between things and subjects. [...] His aim, which is also political, is to provide the “mute things of epistemological tradition”2 with their own space of articulation, and a different representation in society than as facts which are only accepted when they can be certified with scientific instruments in a laboratory. [...]”
1 Sven Lütticken, „Design nach Zeichen-Design“, in: Burkhard Meltzer, Tido von
Oppeln et al. (Hrsg.), It’s not a Garden Table. Art and Design in the Expanded
Field, Zürich, 2011, S. 131.
2 Bruno Latour, Das Parlament der Dinge, Frankfurt am Main, 2010, S. 100.