INHABITING THE NEGATIVE SPACE by Jenny Odell
120 x 190mm, 80 pages, full colour printing on various paper stocks, perfect bound, 2021
Edited by MARIELLE SUBA
Foreword by SARAH M. WHITING
Hi, everyone. I’m speaking to you from my apartment in Oakland, though I’ve virtually placed myself in the rose garden nearby.
Artist and writer Jenny Odell hadn’t originally planned to deliver the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s 2020 Class Day Address from her living room. But on May 28, 2020, bounded by the abnormal conditions of a global pandemic, she joined graduates and their guests in a fully virtual commencement ceremony. Framed by a Zoom background of a rose garden, she spoke to an audience she could not see about the role of design in a suspended moment marked by uncertainty. Odell’s message, itself a timely reflection on observation, embraces the standstill and its potential to deepen our individual and collective attention and our sensitivity to time, place, and presence—in turn, perhaps, enabling us all, amid our “new” virtual contexts, to better connect with our natural and cultural environments.