• Catalog for the Post-Human
    Parsons & Charlesworth
    Hashim Sarkis
    17th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice
    May 22, 2021 to Nov 21, 2021
    Parsons & Charlesworth:
    Jessica Charlesworth &
    Timothy Parsons

Parsons & Charlesworth, objects in “Catalog for the Post-Human,” 2020. Courtesy the artists

The number of flexible or “contingent” workers without secure full-time jobs and accompanying benefits, has risen dramatically since 2005 to the extent that they form over forty percent of the United States workforce. This period has also seen the continued emergence of a “fourth industrial revolution” in which technology companies, besides developing robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), have learned to harvest and monetize data such that human performance metrics can be calibrated in real time. These forces are already creating precarious and unjust working conditions, and are portentous of a future where contingent workers may be forced to enhance themselves with technologies to survive work governed by observational tools and control mechanisms. Borrowing methodologies from installation art and speculative design, and using the spatial typology of the trade fair booth, Catalog for the Post-Human for the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale is a collection of sculptural works and animations that illustrate this potential future, and prompts a critique of its ethics.

Jessica Charlesworth is a British artist, designer, and educator. She is cofounder of the London-based arts salon AlterFutures, and lectures in speculative design in the Designed Objects program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jessica’s visual arts practice employs a diversity of media including designed objects, sculpture, narrative writing, and photography to realize a singular body of work that addresses key social, ecological, and technological challenges of our time. She is cofounder of collaborative practice Parsons & Charlesworth, and graduated from the Design interactions program at the Royal College of Art in London. She has collaborated with artists, futurists, scientists, and think tanks including Foresight (UK) and the Institute for the Future (US), Appleyards Uncertainty Management, FutureLab Education and the Institute for Advanced Studies research unit at Lancaster University. Charlesworth has previously taught courses and lectured at ArtCenter College of Design; Glasgow School of Art; Royal College of Art; Bath School of Art & Design; and Moholy Nagy University, Budapest.

Tim Parsons is associate professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied industrial design before earning a master’s degree in design products at London’s Royal College of Art. He has gone on to teach product design at universities in the United Kingdom and America. Parsons previously taught at University of the Arts London and Manchester Metropolitan University. As a designer, he has worked with manufacturers in the UK and Europe and exhibited widely, including at the Design Museum, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. As a writer Parsons has contributed articles and essays to publications including Blueprint, ICON, Crafts, and Phaidon’s Design Classics. His book Thinking: Objects: Contemporary Approaches to Product Design was published in 2009 by AVA Academia.