Silence / 21st November

Nessa Johnstone will be presenting ‘Silence’ in the Haldane Cinema space on Friday 21st November.
Time : 1:30pm

In a much-repeated anecdote, the composer John Cage described a visit early in his career to the anechoic chamber at Harvard. In this room, scientifically designed to be without sound, Cage heard two sounds, one high and one low. He asked the engineer in charge what was happening, and was told that the high sound was his nervous system, the low sound his blood as it circulated. Wherever you go, you can’t escape yourself.

The central character in Pat Collins’s elusive, sparse, meditative movie Silence is played by (and named for) Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, with Collins one of the film’s co-writers. Eoghan is an Irish sound recordist returned from Berlin to capture the noise of nothing. “I’m recording areas away from manmade sound,” he tells one of the lonely figures he encounters, striding towards him far out in some lonely marsh. “So you’re here?” the man responds with gentle cheek, wondering perhaps if the crank hadn’t thought it through. “I’m here yes, but I’m keeping quiet.”

Several of the half-dozen conversations he has with those he encounters across Ireland – often with people playing themselves – have this same thread of amused bafflement on both sides, as if the project can’t help but make them thoughtful. But much more of the film is people-free: hills, moors, scarps, rivers, woods, sky, great Atlantic breakers, deserted buildings seen from afar or from intimately close. And lots and lots of types of birdsong.

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