Silent Imagery

The world has become loud; and not just loud, but noisily loud. Consider how far out of town you need to get in order to experience the silence of a night without traffic, electric humming of appliances, air conditioners, furnaces, and the back ground vibrations of city life! Add the un-ceasing chatter in our minds and it is no wonder that many people, often especially kids, seem to be unable to sit without constant noise from music, TV, computer games, rarely radio, even be it only in the background. Silence becomes associated with emptiness. Emptiness being considered something inherently un-desirable. Not surprisingly so, in a culture in which all ‘things’ quantitative are valued more than most ‘things’ qualitative.

Combined with the constant fast-paced visual stimulation, mentioned in previous post, there is little space for the mind to find gaps into which it could retreat for rest. Let alone gaps into which it could possibly create something of its own accord. It is easier, so some believe, to have the external world supply, rather than to create from one’s own resources. It may be so, but likely only for the short run.

Winter Bench in Snow Storm

The snow storm for sure was hissing around my head, neither does the almost horizontally blowing snow convey quiet, calm, un-moving silence, either … yet, the image provides plenty of space to rest. Not simply by leaving ’empty’ white space, but by leaving just enough visible detail in that space to draw the mind into it with a minimum, barely noticeable, curiosity; and then leaving that space just empty enough to not provide anything for the mind to attach to and to label. Sure, the composition with the diagonal of the distant foggy tree line helps to lead the mind into that distance.  The eye usually first is drawn to areas of strong contrast, lightest area in an image, sharpest detail. So the contrast between the dark bench in foreground, likely the first visual perception for most viewers, and then the misty light back ground, too, has the eye move back and forth between bench and distance. The lucky wind direction which streaks the snow flakes from top left toward bottom right, parallel to the disappearing tree line, is a fortunate aid in leading the eye again and again into the empty distance.

There being nothing other than bench, snow, trees, without any clear story, meaning, interpretation, leaves the viewer without a perceived need to label, to put words and names upon the image. It leaves the viewer’s mind free to wander, to get lost, to stop for a while without noticing that it has stopped. An unexpected moment of experiencing the silence, not in the image, but in the mind.

How soulfully nourishing