Into the world's silent spaces
“Have you raised your head today, and seen your piece of sky.
Fallen down upon your knees, and tasted your share of earth.”
When was the last time you heard silence? Total and utter silence – not only in your surroundings – but also within. That stuff is hard to come by these days. And for the past 200 years, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it' just become harder and harder, every day.
For the past two centuries we have manifested our victory in the battle against nature by surrounding ourselves with more and more machines. Devices doing our jobs, getting us around effortlessly. Gadgets we can't leave home without. Buzzing and ringing, flashing and roaring to control and shape our environment into something easier, something smoother, something more efficient and comfortable.
We are now in control.
But by controlling nature we have also removed ourselves from the forces running deep within us and everything living.
Today, half the world's population lives in cities. We are surrounded by increasing noise, rising stress levels, more and more communication. Faster and faster. We survive by being several places at once – multitasking is the demanded norm. Motion and pace over stillness and peace.
And spare time doesn't come cheap. In fact we use a good portion of it spending money. Shopping being one of our culture's favorite past times. And no wonder: a common notion is that consumerism feeds identity. We become what we buy. Shop shelves are filled with alluring products, none of them revealing much of their origins.
We encounter nature only when it's neatly packed, uniformly presented and comfortably removed from its origins. Removed from dirt. Soil. Earth. Ourselves.
When was the last time you felt dirt beneath your feet? The last time you literally touched ground? It's not that we don't want it. But it's so easy to forget through the rattle and hum of daily life: silence, peace and our connection to this great big dirty organism Earth.
And this is precisely what spawned my venture to find the world's silent spaces. I wanted to depict stillness and peace, and was drawn to places of worship – places where people seek inward instead of outward – reconnecting with themselves and the greater forces. In my mind these special places are venues of one of the most positive activities of man: the veneration and celebration of life. Of whom we are.
My aim is to capture the ambiance radiating from these places – be it a church, a mountain, a river, or simply a rock stuck in the ground – to convey the reverberation of its worshippers’ gratitude and adoration for life on earth – as they have shown it through silence and meditation. And maybe this can tell us something about what has been lost on the way to modernity.
Text by: Alexander Henriksen