The Materiality of Silence

Holger Schulze:
The Materiality of Silence:
Percepts – Sensologies – Sensibilities

Silent Space: Intensified Integrities

Lecture series
Kunstaufgüsse in Tarvaspää


Gallen-Kallela Museum
Gallen-Kallelantie 27
02600 Espoo / Helsinki




Have you ever experienced total and radical silence? Probably not. Hopefully not. Only if you enter an anechoic chamber, a room in which technically almost all first and subsequent reflections, all noises blocked out, only in such a room you can effectively experience total and radical silence. This silence is actual silence. All other cases of silence you might think of right now are essentially situations of relaxation, of tenderness, of self-care. You might be tempted to call these situations silent: Though they are never actually providing a state of radical silence at all. They tone down and adjust the designed noise- and soundscape all around you.

This talk explores the various aspects of actual, physical, physiological and psychological silence in contrast to metaphorical aspects of silence that refer to social interrelations, to an assumed reduction of a sensory overload, and to political issues at stake when speaking or even praising some sort of silence. As the rather new research field of Sound Studies explores how human and non-human creatures experience sound environments by means of sensibilities and technologies, by communication and performance, by meditating and by dancing, this talk can be considered an introduction into a Sonic Anthropology of Silence. What role plays silence in the lives of humans and non-humans?