I always feel a pang of sadness when I go into a public space and notice that the only interactions happening are between ourselves and our digital devices. It makes it very easy to demonise our smartphones in these situations as constant nagging companions that demand our attention, and take us directly out of the moment.
I'm someone who is fully invested in the art of being present so I constantly question our need to be entertained by these digital crutches. Have they curtailed our creativity?
An artist called Nina Katchadourian highlighted to me, that perhaps it's more about thinking:
"It's really not the tool's fault. It's what we do with it."
And that's why Nina set out on a mission to get creative, and stop filling her 'lost time' with endless scrolling.
Nina talks about how she fights boredom, even on an airplane, with her creative ethos and projects in episode 6 of my podcast
Six years ago, Nina set herself a challenge: To use the two and a half hours of 'lost time' she had while flying between New York and Atlanta, to create something. Anything. The only rules in place being that her smartphone could only be used to take photos, and anything else around her could be used as a prop.
184 flights later, and Nina has compiled a vast archive of acclaimed work called, 'Seat Assignment', that singlehandedly challenges our attitudes towards boredom in this digital age. Her images straddle artistic genres from portrait, to still life and even landscape paintings.
Often using nothing more than a toilet seat cover or a bag of crushed pretzels and a copy of the in-flight magazine, as shown below.
What I find most interesting about Nina's work is that by using only the materials that were available to her, Nina had no option but to commit fully to the present moment. To be spontaneous and embrace both the physical and psychological confines of her environment.
It's a lesson that we can all learn a lot from if we apply the same rules to our own lives. Perhaps if one day a week, we unplugged from the world and embraced the prospect of 'boredom' - what could we create?
This blog marks my last post surrounding my The Heart Speaks in Whispers podcast, and I hope you've enjoyed exploring all the themes we've touched upon in this series with me.
If there's one thing that I have taken away from this project, then it's the importance of stopping to take time to look around and reconnect with both ourselves and the world around us. Stop waiting for the right time to do something, because it may never arrive.
Light a fire where you are and listen to your heart's whispers