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📚 Book: Inhabiting the negative space (Jenny Odell)

Reading  ✺  Design
In How to Do Nothing, I draw on the work of musician and composer Pauline Oliveros, who developed a practice she referred to as Deep Listening. For her, Deep Listening was "listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one's own thoughts as well as musical sounds." She incorporated this into her perforce, for example, with the 1989 album Deep Listening, in which she and other musicians, wielding their voices, an accordion, a trombone, a didgeridoo, and electronics, improvised in constant response to each other. They did this in an underground cistern with a two-million-gallon capacity and forty-five-second reverberation time. Oliveros wrote, "The cistern space, in effect, is an instrument being played simultaneously by all three composers." The album--which is amazing by the way, I highly recommend it--is a stunning example of how there is nothing passive about the act of listening. Indeed, listening and playing are inseparable in this performance, an ongoing response of players to other players and to the cistern. To listen is to stay awake and alive to the world as it is. And what I want to emphasize here is the reason that Oliveros gave for the importance of something like deep listening, which is something you have to practice. The reason was that we're taught to do the exact opposite if deep listening. (p21)
For me, design is so often an argument about how to see the world, aboht what to pay attention to and in what order. It is a practice of persoective and scope, and therefore it requires the ability to step outside of every habitual way of seeing. (p22)
But really, if you take anything away from this address, I hope that it's the ability to give yourself permission. Permission to be patient, to listen without yet needing to speak, to observe without needing to know. Permission to not make anything at all for a while. Permission to dwell in that space between stimulus and response, to take time to really see what's there, even while everything rages around you. And also permission to feel joy, even in the midst of all this, at the surprises that inevitably come with sustained attention and unfamiliar perspectives. Everything is, was, and will be touch-and-go. (p72)