Admired and scorned, desired and damned
The University of Ferrara’s anechoic chamber is perhaps the quietest place in the world. Derived from Greek, the word anechoic literally means “free of echo”. Entering the chamber is an almost mystical experience: sound doesn’t reverberate and those who enter gradually lose their equilibrium as the initial euphoria transforms into an eerie sensation of disorientation.
Silence has always triggered contradictory sentiments all over the world and in every culture. Over the course of history it has been lauded as both “magical” (near to Godliness, according to the Benedictine monks) but it has also been branded as spectral and distressing. In Italy at the height of the coronavirus, the unbearable silence has been broken by singing and music from neighbouring balconies. Nevertheless, when there isn’t silence, people will do anything to find it, like those who choose isolated places to live or cars that are soundproofed, trains with their silent carriages, or the spas that offer relaxation involving complete sensorial deprivation therapies. We’ve tried to tell these stories through photography, bearing in mind the words of Miles Davis: “The real music is the silence, all the notes are doing is framing this silence”. Silence is everywhere, and the sounds of the world are framing it.
Honorable mention Magazine Cover, 2021 Best of Photojournalism (BOP) Awards