On becoming a parcel: Artistic interventions as ways of knowing mobile worlds

Peter Peters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter reflects on the novel ways of knowing that artistic practices have to offer to mobilities studies. Building on the work of Bruno Latour (‘matters of concern’) and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (‘experimental systems’), some of the epistemological questions that are related to artistic interventions as ways of knowing mobile worlds are explored through the analysis of two cases from artistic practice. The first focuses on a sound artwork by the Italian artist and researcher Daniela de Paulis who has extensively worked on mobilities in her artistic practice. In the project Night Mail, inspired by the eponymous 1936 British documentary showing how mail is transported from London to Glasgow by night train, she made a contemporary sonic documentation of a parcel traveling between these cities. The entire journey was recorded with an MP3 player inside the package. The second recounts the site-specific theater project Cargo Sophia-X (2006) of the German theater group Rimini Protokoll. They adapted a freight truck so that an audience could be seated in its cargo hold. While the truck drivers followed their regular route, the audience looked at actual highways and haulage sites through a large window on the side of the truck. Framing these exemplary cases as mobile research helps to investigate the systemic gestures of transportation and mobilities that stretch out from urban fabrics to connect them over large distances. By analyzing how artists stage the movements of a parcel and not a person, a qualitative difference is articulated between Flaneuring and inhabiting a system we normally do not know from the inside.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvisioning Networked Urban Mobilities
Subtitle of host publicationArt, Performances, Impacts
EditorsAslak Aamot Kjaerulff, Sven Kesselring, Peter Peters, Kevin Hannam
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
PublisherRoutledge/Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315200217
ISBN (Print)9781138712362
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'On becoming a parcel: Artistic interventions as ways of knowing mobile worlds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this