Chris Herzfeld


Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy

B. Latour & P. Weibel (eds)

ZKM Center for Art and Media

ZKM Center for Art and Media & The MIT Press

Karlsruhe & Cambridge / London


« Back to things ! » - This is the new motto of what Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel call an « object-oriented democracy. » For the more than 100 writers, artists, and philosophers assembled in this groundbreaking editorial and curatorial project, politics is not just a profession, sphere, or system, but a concern for things. Yet through the very word « republic » (res publica) is already full of « things » - things made public –it is these same things that are always forgotten. Through more than 900 illustrations and over 100 essays, this collection searches for democracy beyond the official sphere of professional politics, and explores public assembies too often left out of a narrowly-defined discourse : laboratories, assembly lines, supermarkets, trade rooms, courts of law, bureaucratic institutions, churches, and natural resources such as rivers and climates.
This collection itself presents a significant public assembly, joining such prominent thinkers as Richard Rorty, Simon Schaffer, Peter Galison, and Peter Sloterdijk with the likes of Shakespeare, Swift, La Fontaine, and Melville. Ranging from the distant past to the troubled present, this collective effort examines the atmospheric conditions in which things are made public, and reinvests political representation with the materiality it has been lacking. This book, and the ZKM show that it accompanies, aims to trigger new political passions and interests in a time when people need, more than ever, new ways to have their voices heard.

Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel were the curators of
ZKM’s Making Things Public, and editors of the MIT volume of ICONOCLASH : Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art.

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