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Site Specific: The Songlines/We Have Never Been Modern

Site Specific: The Songlines/We Have Never Been Modern

October 13th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized


Latour sets up the dual task of modernity with several polarities (one side, domination, translation hybridization, mediation and proliferation are set against emancipation, purification, and separation) – identifying the crisis in the proliferation of monsters that fail to be acknowledged. Can we open up what he might be suggesting to counter this trend on page 12 when he mentions a “democracy extended to things”?

How might we situate Chatwin’s examination of the Songlines in Latour’s understanding of Actor-Networks (as he discusses elsewhere in Pandora’s Hope and Science in Action)?

As collaborators attempting to create site-specific work, might failure to recognize the ways in which navigating space brings it into being reframe a process that died long ago?

Potential Applications/Implications for our work:
Locating the practices that sustain apparent separations/purifications in contemporary life, perhaps in their enunciations and speech acts we might locate an actor-network worthy of making public and visible – that is to suggest we identify the agency of “things” often filtered out of visibility and seek to draw attention to them.

We might approach the Bronx Museum with the dual task to excavate the site, while reflecting upon our own practice through an anthropological lens.

We might seek to illustrate the affinity of an apparently “modern” contemporary context with an often undervalued premodern tradition.

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