Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist whose life work is preserving the world’s silent places which are as gravely endangered as the rest of our environment.
This lovely, immersive 360 video follows Hempton as he navigates a busy, astonishingly noisy urban intersection and the Pacific Northwest’s Hoh Rainforest, considered one of the quietest places on earth. The video draws our awareness to just what it is we’re hearing, or not, and the unique, extraordinarily complex sounds of silence.
As Hempton puts it,
Silence isn’t the absence of something, but the presence of everything.
In an interview with On Being’s Krista Tippett, Hempton talks about the “fundamental frequency of each habitat”:
Oh, grass wind. Oh, that is absolutely gorgeous, grass wind and pine wind.
We can go back to the writings of John Muir, which — he turned me on to the fact that the tone, the pitch, of the wind is a function of the length of the needle or the blade of grass. So the shorter the needle on the pine, the higher the pitch; the longer, the lower the pitch.
Hempton has said that what he likes most about listening is “that I disappear”. Disappear into the sounds Hempton has recorded for his website The Sound Tracker and on Spotify. I recommend The Ocean is a Drum, here.
Hempton’s recent book is One Square Inch of Silence, One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet.