My essay ‘Agency and Artifice in the Environment of Neoliberalism’ features in Ed Wall and Tim Waterman’s collection Landscape and Agency: Critical Essays, Routledge, 2017.
Here I argue that in deploying the language of ’emergence’ designers effectively distance themselves from their own creations – whether these be designs or models of design – preferring to locate the origins of these in the natural unfolding of being. In the process their own artifice is concealed. By ‘artifice’ I mean an ‘art of making’; a practice of fabrication conducted for and from within a set of social, material, economic, political, cultural and technological conditions. Artifice is, in this sense, no less real than anything that might be described as ‘emergent’. The realities of the artificial are, however, made opaque to critical reflection – as the work of socially, politically and economically interested parties – in being presented as attributable to the work of purely disinterested agents: nature, emergence, self-organization, the way of the world.