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Jessica Charlesworth and Tim Parsons

Catalog For The Post-Human

This week’s conversation is with Jessica Charlesworth and Tim Parsons and we are talking about their design work which explores some of the key social, ecological, and technological challenges of our time.

Jess Tim post Human

Catalog For The Post-Human - Venice Architecture Biennale 2021

There are many aspects of Parson Charlesworth’s work that is intriguing. The first is the industrial design scale. These are the objects, clothes, and devices that we all encounter daily. Everyone has an opinion or experience at this scale; therefore, we are all invested in hearing what they have to say. The second is their use of satire. So much of our reality, specifically the technologies and politics that govern how we perceive what our future realities might become, seems in flux. It is obvious that architecture has fully immersed itself in the earnest approach’ in trying to deliver our futures related to the pressures of climate, communication, and social injustice. There is of course a necessity for this earnestness, but the satirical seems capable of opening that window into the future even further. It is often in the development of the absurd that we find kernels of truth that would otherwise go unnoticed. I worry that too much earnestness only reinforces our existing assumptions, creating blinders to arguments that would otherwise question the course taken. Satire, on the other hand leaves no stone unturned in its quest for the absurd which is increasing looking like our reality. 

Jessica Charlesworth and Tim Parsons

Parsons & Charlesworth is an art and design studio that develops tangible worlds as discursive tools for critically appraising urgent issues. Co-founded by Jessica Charlesworth and Tim Parsons, the studio’s investigative, research-driven, speculative approach uses installation, sculpture, designed objects, writing, photography and digital media to explore key social, ecological and technological challenges of our time, including climate change, the future of work, and the ethics of technology. Their current project, Multispecies Inc. manifests the output of a fictional group of ecologists striving to cohabit with other species with the help of advanced technologies.

The studio has exhibited their work internationally at prestigious venues and events, including the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT Lisbon), and the Museum of Applied Arts Vienna (MAK), among others. They have also received numerous grants and awards, including a 2022 Canada Council for the Arts Research Grant, a 2021 Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Grant, and a 2020 Mitchell Enhancement Award from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they both teach. In July 2023, they will be artists in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

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