Now Reading
What’s an Object? A List of Answers to Open New Questions

What’s an Object? A List of Answers to Open New Questions

From fictional personifications to philosophical traditions, from copyrighted images to circulating pop culture memes, humans have attempted to define themselves through, by, in contra, in relation, and alongside objects. Thus, when asking the question “What’s an object?” to define the playful and theoretical approach that eventually culminated in the object NESS 3, each editor’s personal experiences alongside larger editorial dialogues helped to show that there is an infinite array of answers. Continuing the initial (and purposely incomplete) selection published in the magazine, we compile here an extended version that equally serves as a way to gather tales for new critiques, experiences, projects, and questions. We open up the process to you to join us in exploring new object entanglements in architecture, life, and urban culture.  

It might be stated as a general formula that the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the sphere of tradition. By replicating the work many times over, it substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence.” [1]

They did not understand even its simplest mechanisms; they saw in it only a labyrinth of streets. They would look up and admire a forged iron balcony, a painted beam, the pure pointed arch of a window, a subtle play of light and shadow, an extremely narrow stairway, but their walks were aimless; they went round and round, feared at every instant that they would get lost, and tired quickly. [2] 

[E]very object, in so far as it exists within a given economic, technical and social complex, will in its turn become exigency through the mode and relations of production, and give rise to other exigencies in other objects. [3]  

It was Le Corbusier who juxtaposed objects trouvés and commonplace elements, such as the Thonet chair, the officer´s chair, cast iron radiators, and other industrial objects, and the sophisticated forms of his architecture with any sense of irony. [4]  

The recycled world of objets-trouvés involves an accumulative and heterogeneous aesthetic at odds with the stereotypes of modernity; disparate and contradictory objects go to form landscapes or stage sets in which the grotesque and the elegant, the useless and the disproportionate, coexist chaotically in an affirmation of the ludic character of disorder, of its pertinence as a creative asset of the environment. [5]  

What is it that separates humans from inanimate objects like shoes?
Soles. [6]  

Now, just so long as the object is liberated only in its function, man equally is liberated only as user of that object. [7]  

Classical sociology’s cultural objects are mediations between people, and those objects—such as tables, houses, and autos—are therefore to be explained starting with the people. Such an approach and such criteria no longer apply to contemporary social structure. No longer people but rather technical images lie at the center… [8]  

Recognition of the modes of existence of technical objects must be the result of philosophic consideration; what philosophy has to achieve in this respect is analogous to what the abolition of slavery achieved in affirming the worth of the individual human being. [9] 

As a bunch of logical statements, digital objects are subsumed under calculation. The affectivity and sensibility of the objects are calculable. A digital object’s relation to other digital objects will increase through logical inferences, even though it has the same content. Networks are created among the digital objects being actualized according to certain parameters and algorithms. The multiple networks, which are connected together by protocols and standards, constitute what I call a digital milieu. [10] 

[1] Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935, p. 22. 

[2] Georges Perec, Les Choses, 1965, Part II, Chapter I.  

[3] Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason – Volume I, London: Verso, 1984, p. 189. 

[4] Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966. 

[5] Iñaqui Ábalos, The good life: A guided visit to the houses of modernity, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2001, p. 127. 

[6] A common joke. 

[7] Jean Baudrillard, The System of Object, London: Verso, 1996, p. 18. 

[8] Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011, p. 51.  

[9] Gilbert Simondon, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, Ontario: University of Western Ontario, 1980.  

[10] Yuk Hui, On the Existence of Digital Objects, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016, p. 26. 

Explore more NESS 3 here!

© 2020. –NESS & lots of architecture–publishers.