Dark objects: a theology of the unseen and the everyday

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The objects and artefacts that populate our lives contain an indelible darkness, an "unseeness" which the act of designing tries to penetrate. This chapter will argue that the permanent presence of this dark interior can present us with new scope in which to address the key issues of our time and re-engage with lost material cultures in which artefacts had a theological status. Objects were once imbued with a divinity, a divinity that in our secular age has ostensibly faded in its direct influence.
This chapter will contend that instead of vanishing from our world, the theological elements of objects have been reconfigured or reconsecrated around the idea of "the known". Instead of objects reaching for a divine realm beyond the scope of our comprehension, objects designed today aim to transmute the objectives of post-Enlightenment scientific rationalism by becoming capsules of "information" or "knowledge". This fact is however highly questionable and we can question it through a theological lens. Critically, the main question we may pose is; how can we define a theology of design for our modern, technologically advanced and secular age? We can turn to the practices of apophatic theology and the complex practices of Medieval Christian mysticism in order to explore this question further. While this may seem counterintuitive to many, considering the practices of design through this lens may offer insights into the intrinsic weirdness of our world and how a theological embrace of that weirdness may provide strategies for rethinking the unthinkable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign for the Unthinkable World
Subtitle of host publicationStrange Ecology and Unwelcome Change
EditorsCraig Bremner, Paul A. Rodgers, Giovanni Innella
Place of Publication[S.I.]
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2024

Publication series

NameDesign Research for Change


  • dark interior
  • theological objectification
  • symbolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Dark objects: a theology of the unseen and the everyday'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this