Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy
by Bruno Latour (Editor), Peter Weibel (Editor)
Making Things Public is based an exhibition in which Latour became involved, an exhibition of different artifacts that have to do with politics in the world of things. How do we think of a politics of things? How do we understand the public aspects of shared artifacts? This is a familiar theme for Latour, and in this edited collection, he convinces "more than 100 writers, artists, and philosophers" to join him. The result is a beautiful but massively thick book -- like an academic coffee table book, as a review at Amazon.com puts it, with wonderful production values and art.
Of course, with over 100 authors and artists jostling for space, even with a massively thick book, there's not much room for everyone's meditations. So the chapters are short. Reading it is like going through a buffet and grabbing small samples of everything. It's built for breadth, not depth, so we get samples of work from many different places, working on the same theme. It's not exactly satisfying, but it's still useful.
Unfortunately I never finished the book, and my copy is probably gracing someone else's coffee table right now. Last week I was carrying too many things on the bus and accidentally left the book on the seat. I can't imagine what its new owner thinks of it -- but if you buy this book used and you find that my email address is written on the inside front cover, now you know the story.