Section = 005_9

AMODERNITY, ACTORS AND NETWORKS[1]

Gardens and humans cannot be treated strictly asymmetrically if we are to understand them adequately. Think of (not only human) ‘actants’ that emerge only within the networks of relations that exist between them, relations that stabilize them and allow them to be taken for granted. A garden can only exist in a context that includes gardeners, space and built environment, water sources, admirers, traditions and methods, gardening implements, etc etc. What exists “in itself” is just a pile of junk and plants[2]. In a sense this is a semiotic approach in that it views things as meaningful because first and foremost they refer to each other rather than a reality “outside” or “beyond” themselves.

[1] Ref: Latour, e.g. discussed in Verbeek, 2005: pt5

[2] The pile of matter that we call an “automobile” can only exist as such in a context that includes also gasoline, gas stations, pumps, refineries, highways, auto mechanics, automobile manufacturing plants, and so forth. What exists “in itself” is only metal and synthetic material (Verbeek, 2005:149 discussing Latour).