Nobody who lives in a city would be surprised to know that silence has become gold. In fact, studies on sound levels in restaurants have revealed that all the clean and minimalist surfaces that are now such a prominent feature produce a constant reflection of sounds and we have reached 110 decibels of background noise. That is even more than a motorcycle’s exhaust pipe and only five decibels below the sound of a rock concert. But we also have the noise in the street, which can reach levels that cause irreversible damage to the ear and the nervous system. The premature ageing of the eardrums can lead to depression in whoever suffers from it, and produce headaches, bad moods and brutalization. All of this is proven by science but city dwellers know it first-hand.

And the fact of being aurally and visually over stimulated deprives us of capacities as vital as knowing how to be alone, appreciating simple pleasures or even listening to music. Tarkovsky used to say: I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. The real tragedy about this rise in decibels is that we get used to it to the point that we don’t know how to silence our surroundings when is it necessary. And, at least once a day, it is necessary. If you are part of this species in extinction that still favors silence and aesthetic experiences, we recommend the following:

 

1. Aural silence: The “Quiet Music Movement”

Many of us do not even know how to listen to music in silence; going to a concert has become a social event where we chat and get up to date on the gossip instead of listening to and filling ourselves with the music. We are used to ‘background noise’ and it could even be said that we seek it out. Which is why the so-called “Quiet Music Movement” is important.

For the last eight years, since the movement emerged in London, the initiative has gained strength. It would appear that many people long to return to a past that was more respectful of the art of music, and which is drowned out by the sound of people talking. There are two festivals that above all deserve a mention, the Shhh Festival in the UK and The Quiet Music Festival in Portland, Oregon.

Both festivals have a clear and well-defined manifesto: to provide music to be really listened to and to silence the people who whisper or talk during the concerts. Because people forget just how far a simple whisper can travel.

 

2. Graphic Silence: Green Silence / If Silence Could Speak

The Green Silence series, as its name suggests, focuses on a specific type of silence: green silence. This silence of the forests that, by simply looking at it, silences all that makes noise within us. The series represents photography as therapy.  Photographer Daniel Kovalovszky invites us not only into graphic silence but total silence. Without realizing it, while observing his photos we are already in the parsimony of the trees. If you are far from a forest, with Green Silence you are immediately immersed into an absence of sound. It is a real respite from the mundane noise of the city.

If Silence Could Speak, by Belgian photographer Lieven Engelen, is also a visual sanctuary. It leads us to ask ourselves what would silence say if it could speak? And through the photos muffled with snow we reach the beautiful conclusion that it would not say anything if it could speak; it needs nothing added to it.

If one could speak of a consonance between the graphic format and a mental state, this is an excellent example of that. Both series manage to silence the world and even our voices, which is enough to make us relax.

.

3. Emotional Silence: Mindfulness

Paradoxically, the best way to mute our irrepressible internal dialog is to listen to it. Mindfulness is a meditation technique that only requires attention and the rising and falling of breathing. By doing this one hears all of one’s thoughts without being carried away by them, like someone who watches the clouds float by without following their trajectory. One of the best ways of making peace with noise is to sit in the meditation position and listen; listen to each and every one of the sounds around us (cars, dogs barking, airplanes, birdsong, distant music) and simply note them, but without getting distracted by them. In this way, noise is no longer noise but a series of isolated sounds that cannot affect our nerves or vulnerability. By listening appropriately to the sounds that comprise noise, the noise disappears.

Silence, like music, is gold.

.

Nobody who lives in a city would be surprised to know that silence has become gold. In fact, studies on sound levels in restaurants have revealed that all the clean and minimalist surfaces that are now such a prominent feature produce a constant reflection of sounds and we have reached 110 decibels of background noise. That is even more than a motorcycle’s exhaust pipe and only five decibels below the sound of a rock concert. But we also have the noise in the street, which can reach levels that cause irreversible damage to the ear and the nervous system. The premature ageing of the eardrums can lead to depression in whoever suffers from it, and produce headaches, bad moods and brutalization. All of this is proven by science but city dwellers know it first-hand.

And the fact of being aurally and visually over stimulated deprives us of capacities as vital as knowing how to be alone, appreciating simple pleasures or even listening to music. Tarkovsky used to say: I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. The real tragedy about this rise in decibels is that we get used to it to the point that we don’t know how to silence our surroundings when is it necessary. And, at least once a day, it is necessary. If you are part of this species in extinction that still favors silence and aesthetic experiences, we recommend the following:

 

1. Aural silence: The “Quiet Music Movement”

Many of us do not even know how to listen to music in silence; going to a concert has become a social event where we chat and get up to date on the gossip instead of listening to and filling ourselves with the music. We are used to ‘background noise’ and it could even be said that we seek it out. Which is why the so-called “Quiet Music Movement” is important.

For the last eight years, since the movement emerged in London, the initiative has gained strength. It would appear that many people long to return to a past that was more respectful of the art of music, and which is drowned out by the sound of people talking. There are two festivals that above all deserve a mention, the Shhh Festival in the UK and The Quiet Music Festival in Portland, Oregon.

Both festivals have a clear and well-defined manifesto: to provide music to be really listened to and to silence the people who whisper or talk during the concerts. Because people forget just how far a simple whisper can travel.

 

2. Graphic Silence: Green Silence / If Silence Could Speak

The Green Silence series, as its name suggests, focuses on a specific type of silence: green silence. This silence of the forests that, by simply looking at it, silences all that makes noise within us. The series represents photography as therapy.  Photographer Daniel Kovalovszky invites us not only into graphic silence but total silence. Without realizing it, while observing his photos we are already in the parsimony of the trees. If you are far from a forest, with Green Silence you are immediately immersed into an absence of sound. It is a real respite from the mundane noise of the city.

If Silence Could Speak, by Belgian photographer Lieven Engelen, is also a visual sanctuary. It leads us to ask ourselves what would silence say if it could speak? And through the photos muffled with snow we reach the beautiful conclusion that it would not say anything if it could speak; it needs nothing added to it.

If one could speak of a consonance between the graphic format and a mental state, this is an excellent example of that. Both series manage to silence the world and even our voices, which is enough to make us relax.

.

3. Emotional Silence: Mindfulness

Paradoxically, the best way to mute our irrepressible internal dialog is to listen to it. Mindfulness is a meditation technique that only requires attention and the rising and falling of breathing. By doing this one hears all of one’s thoughts without being carried away by them, like someone who watches the clouds float by without following their trajectory. One of the best ways of making peace with noise is to sit in the meditation position and listen; listen to each and every one of the sounds around us (cars, dogs barking, airplanes, birdsong, distant music) and simply note them, but without getting distracted by them. In this way, noise is no longer noise but a series of isolated sounds that cannot affect our nerves or vulnerability. By listening appropriately to the sounds that comprise noise, the noise disappears.

Silence, like music, is gold.

.

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