Concept Design: The Parliament of Things

The Parliament of Things began in September 2015 as an exercise in imagination that was as poetic as it is rational. "What if Things and Animals could speak for themselves? What would be the plight of the planet? The reasoning of a fish? What claims would trees make, and what future would oil see for itself?" The Parliament of Things: a writing contest in which you lend your voice to a Thing or an Animal, was initiated by Partizan Publik.

The origins of the Parliament of Things stem from Bruno Latour's book "We have Never Been Modern" first published in 1991. In it he criticizes the distinction between nature and society. He states that our sciences emphasize the subject-object and nature-culture dichotomies, whereas in actuality, phenomenons often cross these lines. As an example, he mentions the hole in the ozone layer, and the different ways the sciences should look at it: ‘Can anyone imagine a study that would treat the ozone hole as simultaneously naturalized, sociologized and deconstucted?’. With this mentioning of the hole in the ozone layer (as well as, among other things, computer chips, Monsanto, and aids) he gives an example of things or phenomena that are not merely objects, but that are hybrids between nature and culture.

With regards to the title of this work, Latour argues that this dualism between subject and object is a ‘modern’ mode of classification, and that this modern mode does not actually correspond with the practical ways in which we live. Thus, this modern dualism actually has never existed: we have never been modern. 

I joined Partizan Publik to explore the possibilities of an architecture for the Parliament of Things. The project continues and further information, events and project developments can be found here. The latest works shall be presented at Holland Festival 2017, where the Parliament of Things shall host a series of workshops and exhibitions for a three week period.