This year we have been working out how to do nothing.
Following Jenny Odel’s 2019 book of the same name, we’re quarreling with endless distraction and the seeming relentless obligation to do stuff all the time.
Perhaps every festival of experimental music acts in part-defiance of the data hunters. A truly experimental music might hope to defy categorisation. It could be unlistenable. It might be unfinished. An experimental music might be too long, too short, overpowering, underwhelming. As an audience, you won’t really know what you’re going to get before you get it, you may have to participate in it before it becomes anything at all. Experimental music might resist the data beast by providing some background noise to confound its algorithms and confuse its auditors: if it can’t be categorised, how can it be filed, tagged, analysed and sold?
At first, we thought that “doing nothing” meant dialogues 2020 would be a restful, slow, and quiet event. A restorative place at which you can recharge and replenish then be ready for action again. However, that’s not our reading of Odell’s message. She doesn’t want retreats and digital detoxes so that we can go back and serve the digital gods more effectively and efficiently afterwards. “Doing nothing” is about actively choosing where to put your attention and deciding to hold that attention in place in order to gain depth and understanding through intentional focus. Doing nothing is not a passive form of protest, rather an active decision to act on behalf of our own mental wellbeing and the wider envrionment; choosing to be somewhere, not everywhere.
To that end, here’s the lineup:
GUEST TALK, 28 January, 5pm. Digital Self Defence, Andy Farnell.
Wednesday 26 Feb – Open works produced in collaboration with Plus-Minus ensemble and performed by members of the Reid School of Music – West Court ECA, 6pm
Friday 28 Feb – Music on a long thin wire with friends, various times, West Court, ECA.