The Future of Silence
The biggest shock I experienced when moving to New York was that there was no place without noise. Sirens, cars, and loud music on the street by my apartment, traffic and construction on the way to work, squeaking subway trains and loud music in the stations, the loud background noise of the air conditioner in my office – all of this made my transition to New York really challenging. All 24/7. Silence is very scarce nowadays. Silence is not only “a lack of sound” – it also has another meaning. When reading about sound design for movies, silence is repeatedly mentioned as one of the main elements of a soundtrack along with sound effects or ambiances, because silence is so powerful in storytelling.
This is true not only for movies but also in our lives. I believe that the saying “what you are is what you eat” also works for sound: “What you are is what you listen to.” Yet, we surround ourselves with noise. There is nothing wrong with it until there is no way to escape it. Buried in constant noise, we cannot hear ourselves. Silence forces us to listen to our own thoughts, to be with ourselves, to think about what we do, why we do it and what the point of it is.
A question worth considering: does the technology that we are designing help us find moments of silence, or does it create a more noise-polluted world?