Tarot of Things

Anran Yang


A bottle, an empty box, a plastic package, out-fashioned clothes or a used pen… this is the stuff that used to fill our everyday life, but soon become useless or unwanted and fill up the garbage bins. The mass-production or over-production of commodities leads to a state where we can easily forget when or why we bought this item and how many times we have used it before we throw it away. Tarot of Things is a project that uses tarot reading as a method or pathway to rebuild the connection between people and objects in the way that these mundane objects can also be valued and treated with care.

The bond between people and objects is not a spiritual or mysterious topic as one may think. It can exist on every object that shares an important memory with its owner which may be an unforgettable period of time during childhood or a hard experience during work, because seeing or using this object reminds the owner of his or her story. The bond can also exist on objects that receive much care from the owner or have been used for a long time, usually during times of shortages. In modern societies, the chances for building this bond is reduced. I started my research from mudlarking garbage along the Thames River and collected many interesting abandoned objects.In order to rebuild the bond on objects, I searched for different ways to find value from garbage, such as building a garbage museum or finding beauty in garbage. Finally, I came up with a tarot reading store that dedicates itself to finding lost memory or divining the future for objects.

Tarot reading can be both seen as a divination method for believers of spiritual forces or simply a card game for non-believers. In both ways, tarot reading is a way of creating stories, which may or may not be true, that inspires and encourages the querent to deeply look at things that bothers him or her. Each card in tarot reading can be interpreted into different meanings within different circumstances, which gives it the ability to inspire a story that is beyond one’s existing memories. It is a useful tool to encourage people to re-think about those objects we used to overlook or previously refuse to build a connection with.

Tarot of Things serves not as a real connection of the spiritual forces inside objects, but more importantly, it’s a way of building up stories for mundane objects so that we can pay attention to what we choose and what we use in daily life, and consider the results or consequences of a simple action such as throwing away a bottle can bring. It also brings an interesting perspective of thinking about the lifeless object: what if it remembers the story with us, what if those objects also have feelings towards it’s owners and how will it think about our wasteful behaviors?