Ether: Borders and Boundaries
Baltimore / 2018
The border itself may be of great symbolic significance, like the Berlin Wall; in other cases the symbolism lies rather in the disappearance of the traditional border, as in the European Union today. A border may be a barrier against immigration or the front line between hostile armies. It may reinforce distinctive identities on each side of it, or it may be disputed because it cuts across national identities.
Border Identities: Nation and State at International Frontiers Thomas M. Wilson, Hastings Donnan












Thesis
Ether defines boundaries as the invisible cross-connections and distinctions that are maintained and perpetuated through the social contracts that societies operate on. They are able to designate Us versus the Other. They form the traditions, infrastructure, and myths that societies abide by.

One might best find manifestations of these boundaries through common functions, institutions, and objects: a restrictive covenant barring the sale of property to minorities that white neighborhoods signed under the guise of maintaining market value. The representation of Heaven and Hell that allows us to designate the good and the bad. Or the jails that afford us the distinction between free and unfree. As well as the country borders that allow us to distinguish illegal and legal bodies.  The boundaries maintained by a cement box, a contract, or a line on a map create hierarchies that have built societal covenants for better or for worse. They have also allowed us to not only designate the power dynamics between people but to also differentiate creator and creation, form and material, living and nonliving.

The use of design to modify and curate all aspects of life is vital to understanding how we have come to create race, science, borderlines, and class systems. The dichotomies that people currently construct their lives around are not natural or unbiased or accidental. They are very intentional.

The intention of Ether is to instead propose a more fluid understanding of these perceived binaries.