The non-human discourse of materials and semiotic

This week’s reading is on the Actor-network theory (ANT), developed by Science Techonology Studies scholars Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, the sociologist John Law and the others (Wikipedia, 2011a).

So everything is made up of concepts, which is called “assemblages”. In which every human and non-human factors formed an agency which have the ability to influence and act on the network.

For example, a hospital is made up of different components. The human factors include doctors, patients, administrative officers, recruitment managers, counselors, etc. Non-human components are the equipments, medicines, beds, tables, television, common area, announcements, smell of detergents, etc. Missing a table in the hospital won’t change the idea of a hospital, but without doctors, it changes everything. So each role are different, and affects the idea of something entirely.

The printing press and the internet are said to being revolutionary changes, but it is not the only agents as there are numerous assemblages that have the ability to act even it has no intention to.

Examples are shown in the book of Politics of Nature on Latour Litany, featuring “black holes, rivers, transgenic soy beans, farmers, the climate, human embryos, and humanized pigs” (any-space-whatever blog , 2010).

To explain how material-semiotic networks come together to act as a whole, I would like to explore deeper into the Latour Litany, playing with the Latourian fun through creating new relation, using De Landa’s idea of assemblage (Wikipdeia, 2011b).


The sunset acts as a material role. It is an assemblages formed from colours, end of dat, sadness, finsing line, death, air, cloud, red and yellow.


This dog acts as an expressive role, as it always sticks its tongue out for sweating. This concept comes from hot, dizziness, saliva, wet, sunny day, limbs, organs,survival.

Pregnant mom

A pregnant mother can perform the territorializing role, because she can reproduce, giving birth to children, and their children will do the same. Therefore generations after generations, human being will still remain on the earth, proving people’s identities and durability of the assemblage.


The tree acts as a linguistic/coding role, because it takes it carbon dioxide, and gives out oxygen in the daylight. This is an important component in the ecosystem in maintaining the living of the earth, so there will be a suitable environment for organisms to live and prosper.

Lastly, ANT needs constant making and re-making in order to exist, and or else the meaning will be lost. Therefore the they need to be perform continuously.  In fact, those performance shown in the above photos have numerous other meaning and relationship with semiotics, may be you can think of some new ideas that you can share with me? Leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!


Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia, viewed 17 March 2011a, <>

‘Actor Network Rochambeau’, any-space-whatever blog, <>, November 14, 2010 (on Latour)

‘A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity’, Wikipedia, viewed 17 March 2011b, <>


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