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Thinking about Nature as Silence

Dan's picture

This is a illustration I came across while traveling last semester, by two artists named Anders Meisner and Mical Noelson. It's a sort plump, child-like body with straw hands and a straw head. It has neither a mouth nor ears, and therefore has no voice -- a type of artistic scare-crow. Having grown up on a farm in WV, I feel very comfortable and familiar with not speaking or being spoken to for long periods of time, as my experience in such a rural place involved less people and and those people spoke much less often than many of the people I've met at Bryn Mawr and in Philadelphia. I can relate to the straw-headed figure, non-verbal. However, not using verbal communication isn't necessarily silence, although we sometimes consider the pauses in between bits of dialogue to be "awkward silences." Ignoring the myriad of other sounds, the "background noise,"  only acknowledges human voices as noise and denies all other sounds. Similarly, we are much more inclined to consider the absence of man-made or industrial sounds to be silence, when nature is full of sounds and life. Is this a human-centric, speech-centric view of the audible world? Is it us defining silence only in human terms?

The imagine represents a human quietness which I can relate to and enjoy, but not a silence -- a natural soundscape.