Thing theory, says Wikipedia, “is a branch of critical theory that focuses on the role of things in literature and culture. It borrows from Heidegger’s distinction between objects and things, whereby an object becomes a thing when it is somehow made to stand out against the backdrop of the world it exists in.”

Rikke Hansen’s article in Art Monthly this month outlines the distinction between things and objects as made in Bill Brown’s article “Thing Theory” (which I’ve unexpectedly found open on Jstor somewhere). A thing, Hansen says, “suggests a series of relations to the world” while an object “implies the performative amputation of such reality”.

He says Brown “describes how things get in the way; they either have too much presence or too little. The move from object to thing and back again is never an innocent affair. Things continually get reduced to objects in those powerhouses we call parliaments and courtrooms. To present an object as a matter of fact is to ignore the (at times political) interests, speculations and calculations that have gone into severing its connections to a life-world”.

This link is a Thing Theory course at Columbia University last year.

Anyway. This will come in somewhere.

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