Please join us for a talk by Jenny Odell in celebration of her new book How to Do Nothing / Resisting the Attention Economy.
”A galvanizing critique of the forces vying for our attention—and our personal information—that redefines what we think of as productivity, reconnects us with the environment, and reveals all that we’ve been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world
Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.
So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it). Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.
Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of Soylent.”
Jenny Odell is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer based in Oakland, California. Her work generally involves acts of close observation, whether it’s birdwatching, collecting screen shots, or trying to parse bizarre forms of e-commerce. She created The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a searchable online archive of 200 objects salvaged from the San Francisco dump, each with photographs and painstaking research into its material, corporate, and manufacturing histories. She is compelled by the ways in which attention (or lack thereof) leads to consequential shifts in perception at the level of the everyday.
Odell’s visual work has been exhibited at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the New York Public Library, Ever Gold Projects, the Marjorie Barrick Museum (Las Vegas), Les Rencontres D’Arles, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Fotomuseum Winterthur, La Gaîté Lyrique (Paris), the Lishui Photography Festival (China), the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, apexart (NY), East Wing (Dubai), and the Google headquarters. She has been an artist in residence at Recology SF (the dump), the San Francisco Planning Department, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Palo Alto Art Center, Facebook, and the Internet Archive and has taught internet art and digital/physical design at Stanford since 2013.
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, SFMOMA’s Open Space, McSweeney’s, The Creative Independent, Sierra Magazine, Topic, and Real Future.