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Silence as architectural heritage: Preserving a city’s quiet spaces

A hybrid public art project by Russian sound artist Sergey Kasich addresses the issue of noise pollution and seeks to preserve Moscow’s pockets of silence.

Sergey Kasich / Photo: soundartist.ru

'Preservation of Silence' by Strelka alumnus Sergey Kasich is a multidimensional project: it combines contemporary architectural modeling, digital design, experimental acoustics, urban studies, and studies of materials. By concentrating silence, the project will create an acoustically unique space. The artist believes that silence is becoming an atavism of Moscow and deserves to be preserved in the same way as architectural landmarks.
“The audience will interact with the piece by just entering the space or in fact thinking around the concept and presence of the strange physical object, which appeared as a solution of a paradoxical problem,” Kasich told Strelka Magazine.

A 3D model of the 'Preservation of Silence,' 2016

A 3D model of the 'Preservation of Silence,' 2016

“I like the idea of passive physical shape that can change the dynamic conditions of the environment. The simplest example is any resonator, like a seashell or a long metal pipe. These objects are passive, but when you put any sensor inside, an ear for example, you hear a noise or a tone. The air structurizes itself and changes its dynamics. This means that certain geometry provokes an environmental condition. 'Preservation of Silence' has this idea in its formal basis.”
The concept of 'Preservation of Silence' was first presented in 2013 as a result of Kasich’s research at Strelka. He collaborated with architectural firm Novoe and engineer and musician Filipp Sologub. Architect and Strelka alumna Natalia Orekhova and architect Andrey Sviridov later joined the project. A life-size model of the public art piece, designed by them, was created in 2016.
Last month, Kasich was awarded a maximum budget of 750,000 rubles (US$11,767) by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and BMW as part of the 'Art and Technology' grant, in order to carry out the project.

A life-size model of the 'Preservation of Silence' by Natalia Orekhova, Andrey Sviridov, and Sergey Kasich, 2016

The creation of the piece consists of three stages. First, noise levels will be measured and a map of that noise will be developed. Then, relying on the analyzed data, the quietest area in Moscow will be determined. The last step is the construction of the installation itself: 30 square meters of space will be enclosed with noise-canceling screens outside and covered with materials with anechoic properties inside. The open structure will have no doors and no roof.
'Preservation of Silence' is a unique public space, where citizens can hide from everyday noise. The public art object can exist as such, or be used for very quiet open air concerts or micronoise sound art projects.

“It is an acoustic construction, but it has no sense without a listener inside. At the same time, the less this listener hears, the more successful the project is,” Kasich said.
Kasich is the founder and curator of Moscow Sound Art Gallery and Moscow Sound Art Studio. Together with his colleagues, he also teaches a course on the technical basics of interactive arts at Rodchenko's Art School in Moscow.