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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

09/01/22 - Interobjectivity


Recently I have been attempting to understand what interobjectivity it is about and why is it relevant to my research and research question. I have been looking at it through the mind of Timothy Morton and for this conversation entry, I will below casually discuss my dissection of said topic.

When having a flick around the rabbit hole of the internet, interobjectivity seems to stem from a social sciences point of view and from the mind of Bruno Latour. What appears is the key term of interaction as the dominate ‘player’ within the form of interobjectivity. ‘Action’ being that human motion of physically acting on something whereas ‘objectivity’ from interobjectivity is almost the non-motion of acting but instead, acting with mind and experience.

We will find in the state of nature a degree of social complexity that corresponds, more or less, to the forms of sociability described by interactionism. However, there is no language, little technology. It seems that there is not even any representation of self, nor a model of the other? and that the cognitive competencies necessary to bring out this complexity remain very basic.’ (B. Latour p.229). I would echo this statement as stating that interaction is a natural social construct that remains basic and simple and that no strenuous action is needed to perform such an act. Now if such an interaction was to take place with say a work of art, for this text let’s take Robert Smithson 'A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic1967. Although Smithson is allowing his audience to have an interaction with his interaction of Passaic New Jersey, he is causing strenuous cognitive actions to occur, away from the simplicity of Latour’s interobjectivity. We as the reader use our cognitive knowledge to imagine those qualities within the text, i:e the walking (we know how to walk), the pulling of the bus stop cable cord (we relate to the material touch), so from this there is a simplicity to how Smithson translates the interaction. When interaction becomes complex is when the extended outer influence is introduced or considered. Brian Aldiss 1965 'Earthworks' was the novel Smithson was reading at the time. The influence such a novel will have had on his interactive journey is yet to be said but from an interobjective point of view, the system becomes far more than a simple social science structure. We have us the audience, Smithson, New Jersey, Passaic, a bridge, a road, until we get to the microscopic materials. We as an audience understand so much through tangible transcendence and the mind understands such phenomena (whether that be small or great, it is still somewhat a phenomena) but the supporting or supposedly supporting factors are that of the 1960’s, Earthworks, Smithson’s mental state etc, interobjectivity within art is a far more complex network and although it can be intersubjective we will remain within the objective thought, ‘…interaction that occurs within a social field that is phenomenally objective for subjects and that includes interactions with objects.’ (Sammut G., Moghaddam F. 2014)

With Morton identifying the subjective and objective is key to lessening the association between the ‘inter’ state. ‘Interobjective .. it floats among objects, ‘between’ them; through this between is not ‘in’ spacetime – it is spacetime. On this view, what is called intersubjectivity – a shared space in which human meaning resonates – is a small region of a much larger interobjective configuration space…. The phenomenon we call intersubjectivity is just a local, anthropocentric instance of a much more widespread phenomenon, namely interobjectivity.’ (T. Morton p.81 2013). Intersubjectivity is a part of the composition of interobjectivity. Intersubjectivity is the social/shared human thought space, where we make decisions or discuss ideas and subjective thoughts etc but all within a local parameter. That parameter can be the gallery space, within the live artwork, the museum, the theoretical discussion (lecture theatre) and so on for ‘interactionsim’. It is stated as anthropocentric and by doing so convinces the reader that subjectivity is the human made form of individual and shared thought, there is no higher phenomena (strange strangeness) except for known knowingness.

To state what interobjectivity is for the purpose of my research would be to place it within the non-human environment. My research is located within landscape and nature and landscape exists within an object orientated ontological format. Landscape is as it is without the human, it remains a living being existing and moving through the future unto the past, as a constant state of flux, neither inside nor outside a linear human construct. The landscape could be suggested as being a hyperobject or the landscape is an object the transmits a part of the hyperobject i:e climate. it’s hyperobjects that give us the most vivid glimpse of interobjectivity. Since we only see their shadow, we easily see the ‘surface’ on which their shadow falls as part of a system that they corral into being.’ (T.Morton p.85). The hyperobject (climate) is there as a ‘being’ that transmits particles of information that can be accessed through and on a network of multiple systems (objects - landscape) which work together to formulate concepts and/or pursue/encourage new information.

Morton states in simple terms that interobjectivity is a mesh, ‘a mesh consists of relationships between crisscrossing strands of metal and gaps between the strands. Meshes are potent metaphors for the strange interconnectedness of things, an interconnectedness that does not allow for perfect, lossless transmission of information, but is instead full of gaps and absences. When an object is born it is instantly enmeshed into a relationship with other objects in the mesh.’ (T.Morton p83). This statement suggests that everything has an interconnected being, and this from an artwork point of view (like stated earlier with Smithson) could be perceived as, paint, canvas, wall, gallery, audience. The gaps/absences are where discourse and intersubjectivity/objectivity find themselves. Theoretical concepts can be formed between and live within the gaps of such objects. Though Morton states it is not a perfect lossless of information, but it is instead a transmittable information that can be apart of the gap and that at any time it can acquire new information. I find myself considering the methodological approach of bricolage…picking up these ‘gaps’ and replacing them within the mesh system. Each link and gap are one, although they physically (in a mesh) look like crisscrossing thin strips of wire with a hole between, they are conjoined and work in unison to transmit information on, across, within or between.

‘interobjectivity is significant because it accounts for how change can occur, when sensual objects become entangled with one another (metaphorical sense of entangled).’ (T.Morton 2013). Interobjectivity gives reason for how the human can interpret/reinterpret thought. A reworking of thought is made via a ‘mesh’ system of non-human objects to find outcomes. By moving or perceiving objects, the ‘gaps/spaces/absences’ invites the human subjective thought. These ‘gaps’ are what drives the relationship from the non-human to the human mind to translate the concept/content – This translation can be seen as the phenomena.

Negative Map, Showing Region of the Monuments Along the Passaic River.

Bruno Latour (1996): On Interobjectivity, Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3:4, 228-245

Sammut G., Moghaddam F. (2014) Interobjectivity. In: Teo T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Springer, New York, NY.

Timothy Morton (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and ecology after the end of the world. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.

Timothy Morton . (2013). Interobjectivity. Available: Last accessed 9th Jan 2022.

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