You have the option to contribute a recording accompanied by a brief note and/or compose an analytical essay, drawing inspiration, at least partially, from the recordings and notes submitted by others.The deadline for submitting testimonials is September 15, 2023
. Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
.If you are interested in submitting a paper
(between 2,000 and 8,000 words), let me know by email by August 1, 2023. Short proposals should be submitted by October 15, 2023. Before that, I will provide you with all the recordings and notes, and you will have until January 15, 2024, to submit your completed work.For additional information, please refer to the following two sections.
In the words of John Cage, “[t]here’s no such thing as silence.” Nonetheless, it can be sought after, evaded, appreciated, dreaded, maintained, or disrupted. In the context of space, silence represents a continuous potential, acting as both a denial and confirmation of vastness and capacity. In his essay, Cage talks about his visit to an anechoic chamber, where he rediscovers silence. The reputed authority on silence and the renowned composer of 4'33'' comes to understand that the lack of sound detaches the self from its familiar grounding, forcing it to confront its own disquieting and almost unbearable physicality.
The existence of silence, whether as a term or a concept, is as unstable as its very nature. Some languages draw a distinction between silence as an absence of voice (German Schweigen, Russian molchániye) and silence as soundlessness (Stille, tishiná). It easily spills into the domains of affect (calm) and motion (stillness), politics (silenced voices) and ethics (tacit approval).
Silence never strives for objective perfection. There always exists some form of contamination, an external element, a disruption caused by the wind, far-off traffic, a bird’s song, or an intake of breath — disturbances of varying degrees that may, as a whole, still be perceived as silence. The search for silence is relatively undiscriminating and contingent: a room with a door might seem quiet in a bustling office, a location somewhat removed from a nearby highway might be perceived as an appropriate escape space, and so may an isolated courtyard in the heart of a noisy city.
In the context of the forced displacement that swiped Europe due to Russia’s hostilities towards Ukraine, many, including myself, have had to revisit the simplicity of silence. Discovering silence in an unfamiliar environment proves to be a more difficult task than it was in our previous homes. While inside the anechoic chamber, Cage observes the constant hum of his own nervous system, preventing him from experiencing total quietude. Silence transforms into its antithesis, serving as a potent reminder of one’s corporeality, impermanence, and disarray. Does the silence encountered by immigrants differ from what they experienced in their "previous lives?"
The project is not solely concerned with the immigrant experience. Nevertheless, I would like to explicitly concentrate on "newly discovered silences", on silences that are post something — those that are experienced in the wake of a traumatic event, a shift in surroundings, or any other kind of disturbance. Are those treasured or feared? Are they conducive to new meanings? What is their relation to the disruptions that cast us into their embrace?
The primary goal of the project is to gather audio samples and / or, generally speaking, testimonials of newly discovered silences, accompanied by notes. Subsequently, these will be enhanced with analytical essays authored by scholars from diverse disciplines, such as philosophy, literary history, anthropology, sociology, sound studies etc. The collected materials are planned to be published online in an interactive format by early 2024. Additionally, I will explore opportunities for print publication.
However, if you feel the need to submit a different set of data to document your silence, please feel free to contact me by email, and we will figure out together how to present your silence in the best possible way. You may want to refrain from recording at all (in which case I may ask you to indicate the fitting length of silence to accompany your submission in the spirit of 4’33’’), or you may to choose to include a recording of noise to attenuate your silence, or you may include some visual contributions that will speak more than just an audio.
Please let me know by August 1, 2023, if you are considering submitting a paper. Once all the recordings and notes have been submitted by September 15, 2023, I will grant you access to all the materials. You will then have one month to determine whether to proceed and to write a brief proposal.
Proposals are expected to be up to 300 words in length, while papers should range between 2,000 and 8,000 words.
The preferred language is English, but this is negotiable.