Patrick Shen’s meditation on the place of silence within modern life debuted at CPH:DOX last year. Festival berths followed at SXSW, Atlanta, Cleveland, Ashland, Full Frame, Dallas, Docville, DOXA, Sheffield, and San Francisco Green, among others.
Traversing the globe, Shen’s film identifies some of the most quiet places on Earth, going so far as to note their average decibel levels. These stand in stark contrast to the rest of the world, where an increasingly cacophonous soundscape threatens concentration, sanity, and even physical health, as revealed by a select group of interview subjects, experts on silence and noise, including George Prochnik, whose eponymously-titled book inspired this project. The quiet spaces are captured in artfully composed shots, with equally striking aural qualities serving as an immediate reminder of just what we’re missing behind all the manmade discord. Shen prompts audiences to pause and appreciate the importance of silence, as a space for contemplation in contrast to our increasing drive to keep ourselves distracted and occupied – demonstrated concisely in an appreciation for John Cage’s once-derided silent classic, 4’33”.