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The origins and technological evolutions of silence 
Autumn Brown (University College Dublin)
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Autumn Brown (University College Dublin)
Amelia McConville (Trinity College Dublin)
Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Exploring the violence, relief, and generative function of silence in a noisy world. This panel seeks to examine how technologies of silence have and continue to shape movements of both liberation and oppression.

Long Abstract:

Silence is rare. It can be in turns transcendent, transgressive, transporting, and terrifying. Throughout history silence has served as a technology of war and a means of resistance, a method of torture and a therapeutic practice. Quiet environments have served as novel experiences, places of sensory retreat, and ‘otherworldly laboratories’. Inspired by the passionate belief that “silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything,” acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton has devoted his life to locating and conserving that gravely endangered sensorial experience of quietude. In contrast, after an uncanny experience in ‘Beranek’s Box’, or anechoic chamber at Harvard University, artist John Cage emerged with the belief that there was no true silence, only a potential space in which life's music becomes audible. Designed to stop the reflection of sound or magnetic waves– anechoic literally meaning free from echo, these chambers have caused many others great discomfort. Where silence can inspire a sense of ill ease, even dread, it can also be a generative, and wildly imaginative space or state in which dreaming, reflection, and creativity thrive.

Tracing the lineages both technological and cultural this panel invites applications to explore the past, present and future of silencing technologies, the transfers and transformations of knowledge regarding silence, and the ways in which these technologies have and continue to shape society. Applicants are particularly encouraged to explore how bounded environments, defined by technologies of control, have produced movements of improvisation and experimentation that redefined silence as a medium for art, science, and transcendence. We would also welcome pieces which examine or reflect on oppressive deployments of silence, in helping us to consider what is missing, rendered unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable. This panel invites papers, reflections, speculative responses, performances, and live experiments exploring technologies of silence throughout history and into the future.

Accepted contributions: