Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Small Science of Silence

Spectral Image (Pinhole Photograph, with an inadvertent overlap
due to manual film advance), 2007, JBowring

Aftersilence - like an afterimage, this is a silence which occurs as the impression of something passing. This is most pronounced after a sonic boom, where the ensuing silence is like a negative form of the sound, a ghost. Such a silence is felt when there is a missing presence, where there had previously been a palpable sound, a conversation, its absence is pronounced.

Day's End (Pinhole Photograph), 2007, J Bowring

Muffle - a silence emanating from winter's days. Snow's acoustic insulating properties remove the sound, stifle it, like a sponge. Or in the absorptive capacity of those who listen, with a seemingly limitless capacity, and leak no sound back out. They become a reservoir of silence, secrets steeped in their selves...

Pines (Pin[e]hole photograph), 2007, JBowring

Performance - as in John Cage's 4'33", which orchestrates silence, or more particularly re-tunes the ear to the content of ambient silence. The performers do not play, they are instructed to make no sound with their instruments. Instead, what is heard is the amplification of nothingness, a sublime, luminous, numinous, other. Perhaps these are the sounds of metaphysics itself. Or does heaven really sound like static, as in John Huston's 1979 film Wise Blood, where the snowy television screen is believed to be a real time relay from heaven, passing through the ether and onto the screen.

Clarity (Pinhole Photograph), 2008, JBowring

Vacuum - occurs with low pressure. Atmospherically this occurs when exceedingly low barometric pressure is experienced, a meteorological black hole, which, when passing by, has an odd absence of sound. It even appears to suck it right out of the inside of one's head, out through the ears, in a remarkable reverse acoustic manoeuvre. Those who draw the sound towards them, rather than the more passive muffle, create the silence of the vacuum...


Two Heads (Pinhole Photograph), 2007, JBowring

Cancellation - when two identical sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase with one another a node occurs, a pocket of silence, noise is cancelled. A uniquely serene moment occurs within chaos, a hush. In conversation this occasionally occurs with concordance, a moment of recognition between kindred spirits, when nothing needs to be said, there is a precious silence, a smile.

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