It is high tide in the digital age. Smart phones, laptops, tablets, televisions, and now, it seems, watches and other “wearable technology” constantly proffer text and images, often simultaneously.
We can scroll or swipe our way through the waves of rich data, and there is always another hyperlink to transport us elsewhere.
But much of what we admire in “our” (defined as broadly as possible) cultural tradition comes when individuals resist distraction, and stop to reflect deeply on discrete moments, images, and things.
Project 404 is a practice of attention that recognizes our increasing connectedness with digital technology.
The practice can enable us to be more fully attuned to our sensory and aesthetic capacities, and it allows us to enjoy sociability, as we discuss with one another the experience of paying focused attention to our devices and the images they display.
The practice itself consists, then, of two phases: a silent phase during which the participants look intently together at a single image, chosen from among the images submitted by each of the people in that group; and a colloquy phase, during which the participants discuss their experiences of the silent phase.
Project 404 can be an informal, social practice as well as a pedagogical practice.
In any case, Project 404 reminds us that habitus, the Latin term that designates our repetition of customary activities, makes us who we are.
It is not theory, but practice, that makes us who we are.
This practice of attention is a particular way of being and becoming, one that revolves around the twin axes of creativity and generosity.