The concept of assemblage denotes the idea that whole networks come together in certain ways and function like a living organism. The Actor–network theory (ANT) operates on the metaphysical idea that all things (human and non-human) exist equally and perform together to create the whole assemblage.
This idea was developed by Bruno Latour, who theorized that every entity has the ability to act in the world, and thus labels all things ‘Actants.’ This allows us to research how assemblages happen and how the sum-of-all-parts (animate and inanimate) behave as one functioning whole.
All Actants within society and technology have the ability to make change in the world and indeed to the assemblage it’s related to. An example of this is a Shopping Centre. It is a functioning assemblage in which big spenders, clothes, fresh food, coins, air-conditioning, cockroaches, cash registers and delivery trucks.
No matter how small the Actants’ they all possess values and actions which contribute to the punctualisation or efficiency of the assemblage… Ok perhaps if the Cockroaches weren’t involved the centre would still stand but you get my meaning.
Latour’s main point is that all things, human and nonhuman have inclusion to allow “an ongoing discourse that allows us to avoid the habitual stasis of predictability in favor of experimentation.” (any-space-whatever blog)
This forms a material–semiotic construction becoming a shopping nebula in the ontology of the world. If, for example, the air-conditioning were to break down in the center; the center would result in progressive depunctualization of that assemblage. The punctualisation of that node ceases as a consequence.
To apply ANT, relations must be repeatedly “performed” or the network will dissipate. “So it is fitting that the game would be constantly reconfigured, new relations created, new associations drawn.” (any-space-whatever blog)
ANT is a theory that allows us free- thought and experimentation with networks (including earth and imagination) yet in a practical and political sense it is too all-encompassing to tend any real life solutions, because there would be too many arguments over what is ‘real-life.’
Bruno Latour self-publisher. Available: <http://www.bruno-latour.fr/>
‘Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor-network_theory> (very short, very useful summary of Latour)