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Strangely Familiar

Invited Distinguished Professor:

Patrick Danahy


Gabriel Esquivel,  Studio Professor

Teaching Assistant: Shane Bugni.

Texas A&M University


Team: Stormy Hall, Andrea Hinojosa, Aiden Kinney, Alex Torres,   .

Hoarding is defined as an accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions based on the desire for their ontology to be added to the collection. 


Even though objects have an end date for its original intended use, Jane Bennet emphasizes Robert Sullivan’s narrative “that a vital materiality can never really be thrown ‘away’ for it continues its activities even as a discarded or unwanted commodity.” 

In our project we interpret this quote to define vital materiality withstanding the nullification of an object's value as an effect of its acquisition, while still retaining its desirability. As our object ascends over time, what was once there is never really discarded, but acts as the vernacular formal and material 


Through the lens, and the ideas on assemblage presented by Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, our project expounds upon  the relationship of objects to time, their intrinsic value as “Things”, and their interconnections within a non capitalist assemblage.


The project is a hoarding created to be a private collection of artifacts. The expansion of the hoard creates a deterritorialization of space over time. The larger the hoard the less direct control and influence over the hoard’s accessibility, transitioning the assembly from a private collection to a public assembly. A larger hoard also means more desire for access, subjects are drawn by thing-ness, the power objects command over humans. The hoard’s lack of curation creates impromptu circulation,necessary to navigate the piles of artifacts. This circulation exists without circulation symbols (stairs, walkway etc) but still grants accessibility through the reterritorialization of the assembly. Now we are left with a new object, something no longer private, but restricting access through assembly without the intent of accessibility. 


The collection of objects is based on a flat ontology that rejects Capitalist values reliant upon an object's ability to be exchanged.  The accumulation of the hoarded artifacts lacks a capitalist value due to the nature of the hoard. After acquisition there is no intent on releasing or disassembling the hoard itself. While the hoard itself is built of interchangeable artifacts, these redistributions of objects are restricted to within the hoard's ontology. 


Qualities of parts create the human desire for exploration. Jane Benett describes thin power as “stuff that commands attention in its own right, as existent in excess of their association with human meanings, habits,or projects.” We observe things assembled by humans but not designed for human use, commanding attention to their new independent ontology as a hyper interior.

Now hoarding can be seen as an assemblage of objects navigable through porosity, and the imposing of circulation despite lacking the vocabulary of traditional human accessibility. 

Porosity, Benet’s term for “the potential presence of hidden objects”, allows for the presence of non-human spaces within a human design. Irregular building blocks (artifacts) create irregular spaces as they are hoarded into the hyper object. Gaps, spaces, and pores make up the object's interiority. The value of these spaces remains independent of their ability to be navigated by humans accessing the hoard, but are readable through the porosity of the object.


Visible markers on the exterior reveal qualities of the assembly, via porosity. The Poche of the object is made up of assembled artifacts, and exterior qualities derived from the qualities of the individual parts, allows for inference about the interior from the exterior without the need of forethought into the design. The video displayed is an example of this reading being developed by artificial intelligence through machine learning. Via a sorting operation, the AI finds these porosity flags and is able to relate the exterior of the object to the interior via identification of artifacts within the hoard.


Our project explores the unintentional consequences of hoarding: irregular circulation, the paradox of more hoard creates more access but with less accessibility, Non-human design via happenstance spaces, and the coincidental porosity of the surface creating a language representing the qualities of the interior. In turn these qualities produce a hyper object that is Strangely Familiar.


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