Silent Spaces: Allowing Objects to Talk

Megan Sherritt 1
  • 1 Western University, , London, Canada

Abstract

Object-oriented ontology (OOO) is a philosophy that asks us to step outside the human-centric view of the world to recognize that objects have realities of their own. Although we cannot directly access a thing-in-itself, we can still come to know something about it through an indirect access that Graham Harman suggests is provided by aesthetics, specifically the metaphor. In the metaphor, we step into the place of the object-in-itself (that withdraws) and experience a taste of its reality. This main purpose of this article is to show that the visual arts—specifically Haim Steinbach’s art works—offer a different way to know objects. Steinbach “arranges” found objects on shelves; this emphasis on “arrangement” raises questions about the nature of the space between objects. I argue that it is this space between objects (rather than the indirect contact with objects) that grants us some access to the thing-in-itself. By relating the spaces between objects to silence, I show that it is in these spaces that objects speak. In other words, the theatricality of the metaphor Harman privileges for understanding the object only exists in a silence that emerges from the spaces between objects.

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