Listen to the Sounds of Silence

empty room performance art photo

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"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."
Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, wrote it in the 17th century and it still has resonance today. In our busy urban lives, noise and sensory over-dose take their toll. A recent TreeHugger post discussed a Boston study that found "a few minutes spent on a crowded city street apparently reduces the brain's ability to hold things in memory as well as our self-control. Urbanization, the frenetic energy of dense environments, and the loss of natural areas in our cities all put a strain on the brain."

Influenced by Pascal's views, an artist is going to orchestrate a performance piece in which eight volunteers will sit quietly in an art museum for one hour each, one after another. They will be seated in an historic room, with wood paneling and a fireplace, and a comfortable environment for contemplation.

blaise pascal photo

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The artist, Barnaby Hosking, hopes that the " performance will provide a platform that facilitates a deeper personal reflection, offering participants the opportunity to simply rest and experience the space but also to ask challenging questions: what happens when external distractions cease and the internal distractions of ones mind prevail? Does solitude bring only misery or can it offer a way towards happiness? Is there indeed any value to be found in the experience of solitude? "

The performance piece, and pondering will go on for eight hours. Visitors and arty-types are invited to a reception in the room next door for the last two hours. Let's hope that the carousing doesn't disturb the meditating too much. Royal Academy of Arts and Mix Wigram Gallery
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