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In the book Politics of Nature, as well as in  “Pandora’s hope” and “We have never been modern” before it, Latour describes a new order, a new constitution in which humans and non-humans share the same social and political sphere – A Parliament of Things!

In June 2018, we decided to convene a Danish version, a “Tingenes Tinge” (a parliament of things translated to Danish) (Latour 1993, p.145). The Danish word for parliament is identical to the word thing, which fits well with the notion that we need to agree on the existence of things for them to become a shared and manageable reality (Latour 1993, p. 83).

We imagined a gathering on a hilltop, perhaps in Virtual Reality, where a meadow would be parlaying with a rabbit, a fox, three species of trees joined in one collective, a hunter and perhaps a farmer. They would recognize the existence of one another, explore their interconnectedness, propose scenarios for the world in which they were willing to live as well as the sacrifices they were ready to make, and finally be able to consent to the continued co-existence of the collective (Latour 2004, p. 177).

The Politics of Nature initiative was formed to take the idea of a Parliament of Things from the confines of academic discussions and bring it to life. We only had vague ideas as to how we could convene such a Parliament of Things.

 

Cherefore, we decided to construct numerous laboratories, where tools enabling gentle shifts of the political reality could be trialed, evaluated and refined. We wanted to create both analogue and digital spaces where multi-species and multi-perspective conversations could exist. 

We wanted spokespersons for actors normally outside the parliamentarian space or relegated to insignificant side rows, such as plants, animals and ozone holes, to be seated side-by-side with politicians, urban developers, human citizens, and engage in joint political discussion on topics relevant for the future of our collective at large.

From the onset, a driving hypothesis of the initiative was that we would be able to deploy technology to gradually enhance the capacity of humans to understand and interact with non-humans. We are very thrilled about Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and cross Reality (XR) projects that enabled new understandings of other beings by for instance living the life of tree as seen through the mediation of artists and developers – and the prospects of Social VR experiences with multi player interaction and endless avatars.

We saw huge potentials for giving citizens access to AR and AI to rapidly identify species in an environment, and understand their needs.