Hi. It’s been a while. So much has happened in 2020, more than we can put to words, and it has all undoubtedly conditioned the way we produce and think NESS. Some references to the tremendous year will echo in the texts and dialogues that make this the editorial constellation of NESS 3, as we all had to get used to thinking together while mediated by screens and different interfaces. We shared anxieties, worries, projections, desires, and hopes, and in the meantime, like most of you, we reinvented how we work.
When NESS 2 Mad World Pictures was published in 2019, we were already in the process of editing NESS.docs 2, Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas, launched in March 2020. Both publications were focused on the large scale, from the globe to the urban. It felt natural to think about objects when planning this issue. Intuitively we first imagined it implied a smaller scale conditioned by traditional categories such as closure and context, but readings, conversations, and the techno-bio-political shock of Covid-19 impacted our understanding.
That’s why we decided to keep our playful theoretical spirit and reverse the rhetoric of the iconic quiz show Jeopardy, by making the answer “What’s an Object?” as the title of this issue’s Dossier. By this we are also ambiguously proposing an enigma for our contributors and readers to respond to in different ways—sometimes even as buildings impersonated by our editorial team or other guests. Giving answers in the form of questions is a way of changing the perspective and opening up the conversation to new processes and reconfigurations.
Objects are linked to experiences that are not only about the haptic. Objects can transcend physical limits and measures. Objects can condition the way we inhabit, can give us shelter, inspire, be useful, be luxurious, be infinite, be intangible. An object, the phone with a camera was crucial to the Black Lives Matter movement. An object, a piece of paper with a vote has had the power to renew hope for democracy. Another complex object, a developing vaccine has dragged emotions and geopolitics for months. We could go on for hours enumerating how 2020 has made us re-signify other objects such as monuments, roofs, computers as means to access to education, streets, domestic spaces, etc.—and not take them for granted.
The dialogues and voices here represented intend to picture part of the questions we need to keep on discussing. I hope you join us in that spirit, and as always, we would love to hear your thoughts, we are just an email away: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Pablo Gerson & Florencia Rodriguez