Silentivm: the value of the silence


The Value of the Silence

What is the silence? What type of value do we give to this abstract something? Why is it important (if it is)? Why can it scare? Why someone like it and, instead, others dislike it. These question, together with others, have been basically the ground where my research has bloomed.

Naturally, we can simply explain it as an absence of noises, sounds, voices. It could be a condition that occurs in an environment or characterizes a given situation. Moreover, could be the failure to speak or cease to speak or not to express a will, if it is referred at the human voice. Simple as that, isn’t it?
However, the explanation beyond the physical point of view could gain complexity when this topic is analyzed through a psychological and especially anthropological point of view.

The silence inside the religion, for instance, can have different functions and purpose mostly because silence is the opposite of the word: while it defines something, silence is uncertainty, boundlessness; while the word implies the human presence, silence can evoke or at least not disturb the non-human. This last sentence is very important if we consider, in practice, magic, religious, or holy rites: they usually require the mystic silence because every useless word could influence the energy or action of metaphysical entities.

Also when we consider the simple enjoying the Mother Nature, usually we do not speak. We do stay quiet for listening. Listen what? Birds? Wind? Or, perhaps, something that is more than a simple sum of the single elements. One thing is sure, for some people that moment can be a sacred connection with a no-humans reality and the silence, at that moment, can really be the indispensable tool or the protagonist of this relationship.

Let’s spent some words doing examples regarding the silence as a tool for the social rites. According to the cultural anthropology, the mystic silence in the case of the Taoist practice of “non-action” (wu-wei), is form for which the non-speaking is the only way to let yourself fill up and drive to the universal harmony. Moving to the roman catholic religion, the Latin phrase Favete linguis! imposes silence to present during the ritual, aimed mainly to avoid desecration of the sacred action2. Last example from the buddhism in which the silence precedes and accompanies the entrance into Paramartha3 (namely Nirvana).

As we have seen, analyzing the silence through his social functions or from a psychological point of view can be difficult, long and requires a proper study. Here, the intention was only to write few examples in order to give a proper idea of how much value the silence can have for us.

In this work, the silence does not want to be seen as a mere physical absence of sound but, instead, as a natural psychological phenomenon that happens inside our mind and about the dynamic before that moment.
Seen from the latter point of view, silence could be interpreted as a necessary mindset for living that inner voice that helps to introspectively analyze our past, present and future life experiences.


Five Values of the Silence

This section presents the findings of the five person’s interviews that have participated in the project. The content of each text is composed of their beliefs, opinions and written sentences. The title of each text (and photograph) is given by their answer collected during the Implicit Association Test


Silentivm is a photographic project regarding the conceptual topic of the silence and its meaning attribution.

The silence, in this project, is seen as a mental phenomenon and not only as the absence of sound. The research aims to investigate one intimate side of our mind that is part of everyone but, however, capable to generate a significant quantity of different effects in each of us.

Through interviews and meaningful portraits, this photographic work tried to give a body to a complex topic difficult to circumscribe in well defined behavioural patterns.



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