Resonant Thoughts: Jenny Odell’s “How To Do Nothing” (2019)

“If we think about what it means to ‘concentrate’ or ‘pay attention’ at an individual level, it implies alignment: different parts of the mind and even the body acting in concert and oriented toward the same thing. To pay attention to one thing is to resist paying attention to other things; it means constantly denying and thwarting provocations outside the sphere of one’s attention. We contrast this with distraction, in which the mind is disassembled, pointing in many different directions at once and preventing meaningful action.”

“The artworks I’ve described so far could be thought of as training apparatuses for attention. By inviting us to perceive at different scales and tempos than we’re used to, they teach us not only how to sustain attention but how to move it back and forth between different registers.”

Jenny Odell, How To Do Nothing (2019)

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