We often meet people who have very intriguing ideas and questions. We also see them talk about it for hours and from a place of great empathy and drive. They are definitely thinkers, but not all of them are writers. Their questions and thoughts move us quite a great deal, they stick with us for a long time and sometimes consume us for weeks, months or years. All this while, the people who have left that mark / stain or that thought bubble hovering around us have moved on with their lives, forgotten about the thoughts and questions that they have left for you to bask or burn in. They do not have the time, wish or patience to put these thoughts into text or any articulated form. They might simply not even consider these thoughts as important for their lives or for that matter anybody’s lives in the world. However, if for those of us who like to write our thoughts or give a textual form to our thoughts, not putting our thoughts on paper is like not scratching the itch or like what Graham Harman once wrote about Latour “like not disposing a cigarette bud in a national park”. It’s our ethical bond with that urge to write that we follow.
In the same light we often find people who have progressed the thoughts of the important authors that they are reading, but without having necessarily written anything about it. For instance, several people who have read Deleuze, Foucault or Latour and who use the ideas of these thinkers as drivers of their work often do not adhere to all the aspects of these thinkers but only those that help push their own work and discipline further. They often pick up only one or few key terms from their work –fold, network, actor, power structures, being, pratice, place and so on. It really does not matter if every time some one uses these ideas they have a thesis on each of these terms, as long as these terms trigger new ideas and new ways of looking at the world.
Consider for instance, the work of CAMP. Their work using the surveillance camera starts with the camera pointed at a small cricket ball that is used by the local cable service providers as a way to throw the cable from one roof to the other. The camera then pans across the neighborhood and all the apartments that are around the terrace of CAMP. All this while, the members of CAMP are telling stories of each of the objects that the camera is pointing towards -the history of a hill, the story of a community space, the story of the ball, the window of a celebrities house (where sometimes you can see their undergarments drying and so on). a form of voyeurism is present in this work, but more importantly there is an object orientedness in the work. Every story is about an object no matter what the scale of the object is. It is also known that the a members of CAMP and several of their friends and colleagues are readers of Latour. This particular work described above is an example of how CAMP has translated the Actor-Network-Theory into their work. Now, whether Bruno Latour himself would have ever thought of mobilizing this form of ANT in work of art is a different discussion, but what is evident is that CAMP has taken the flat-ontology aspect of Latour’s model as a framework for this and several of their works. This combination of the object Orientedness and flat ontology already pre-empts a kind of OOO that is possible without Graham’s work. However, neither CAMP nor Latour have put together a work of philosophy that is akin to that of Graham Harman or Timothy or Bryant. Perhaps it is more interesting to think that there is an anticipation of such a possible ontology in many works, peoples’ thoughts, questions and conversations but, as mentioned above, it requires someone to actually feel such anticipation, to be committed to develop a full blown work of its own right and space. At the same time, it would also be unfair to reduce the work of any artist or architect to merely these concepts. But it would be more interesting to see what new concepts and ideas intrigue in the works.