Between the Song and the Silence: What's in a Name?
I was recently asked by a curator about how I title my works. The subject matter of a series typically riffs off of conversations with others, notably my long-suffering partner Francis, about things that I may have seen or heard. The title for Between the Song and the Silence evolved from discussions at his family cottage in the Laurentians about things no longer seen nor heard.
We all reminisced about what it used to sound like up there, about the complexity of the combined sounds of birds and wildlife. How the bass cacophony of bullfrogs in the evening could keep you from falling asleep, while the howling of the wolves nearby would make you shiver deliciously under the covers. The banshee laughing and wailing of the loons would fade away to be replaced by the dignified hooting of the owls.
It doesn’t sound like that anymore. To hear one bullfrog is cause to “shush” everyone, while the wolves singing at night are remarked upon by all the neighbours, and is something you’d tell the cashier about at the store in town.
Visitors often remark now about the quality of the silence there, about how “beautiful and quiet” it is.
I thought about what it would have sounded like in my grandparents’ time, and about the different species that they would have heard, that I would never hear.
How could you describe the call of a bird you’d never heard? If you’d never heard it, could you truly miss it?
What remains between the song and the silence?
I recognized that that phrase between the song and the silence described succinctly what I wanted to explore, and that here emerged both the topic and the title of a new series.
If an idea can be distilled down to a few words, then it shapes and focuses my research and work, at least initially.
To hear one bullfrog is cause to “shush” everyone, while the wolves singing at night are remarked upon by all the neighbours, and is something you’d tell the cashier about at the store in town.