Tor Bruce, whose portrait is formed by these images, elected to take a year-long vow of silence as a way of exercising control over and simplifying his life. During that year, he spoke only twice, briefly, in situations where this could not be avoided. His silence was verbal rather than total, though – he wrote a million words during that year, on his clipboard, in notebooks and on the walls of his house.

Since reading Sara Maitland’s ‘A Book of Silence’ I’d become interested in people who’d taken vows of silence, or for whom silence was a significant part of their lives. I was particularly interested in silence in relation to control – the motivations people might have for becoming silent, whether that was voluntary or imposed, in search of freedom or as a result of oppression, for political, spiritual, artistic or simply personal reasons.

The images are also a response to thinking about silence within images. I had been reading about Gerry Badger’s thoughts on ‘quiet photographs’, and I wasn’t thinking of quietness in the way he describes, of authorial neutrality; rather, I was aiming to create a sort of calmness within the image.

These images are a starting point for a further exploration of silence.

This project was developed as part of the Redeye Lightbox scheme and was first exhibited as part of a group show, ‘Control’, which formed part of the look2011 photography festival in Liverpool in May-June 2011.

| 2011 | On Silence | Comments (0)