“Wind in the trees, thunder, flowing water, falling leaves, rain, animal voices --- we live amid a teeming polyphony of natural sounds. Add to these the sound of human activity, from soft footsteps to pneumatic drills, from muted conversation to pounding trains, from jetting fountains to jet planes. Then we have the articulate, measured, imagined sounds of art --- all the many kinds of music, which so specifically and directly convey the spirit of a people. Our world is permeated with sounds, some calming the heart and mind, some keeping us frenetic and on edge.” Thus, the spiritual writer Thomas Moore on the subject of “Noise and Silence.”
Cognizant of the assault and violation of our aural sense, and making a plea for the redeeming sound of silence, is the concept behind the show titled “Noise,” now on view at Galerie Anna. Curated by Robert Besana, the works demonstrate in visual terms much of the anxiety and stress of modern life generated by the destruction of silence, when peace and quiet have been denied to the human spirit.
Indeed, we now have the phrase “white noise,” which is defined as “a constant background noise, especially one that drowns our other sounds. It could also mean “meaningless or distracting commotion, hubbub, or chatter.” For the more technically inclined, white noise is “a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing (generally from 20 hertz to 30kHz) in equal amounts.”
Interestingly, there is another variant phrase, “pink noise,” which is white noise “that has been filtered to reduce the volume of each octave.” Whether white or pink, and no matter the color, noise is simply nuisance: the blaring of the neighbor’s karaoke, the din of roaring vehicles poised for a road rage, or the raucous voices of politicians ringing in what are supposed to be the hallowed portals of the state. They are all, each one, “wounding sounds.”
Thomas Moore, once more: “Sound is one of the most direct and simple means we have at our disposal for enchanting life and caring for the soul. There is no reason why we could not tune our world, keep it at a pitch, and allow only the most forgiving dissonances. The soul would then be ready for joy and pleasure, and not be crimped into protective postures in absolute horror at the noise we allow to be characteristic of civilization.”