LADAN BAHMANI

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SILENCE

“Silence” is an installation that investigates the visual translatability of a suspenseful pause in a conversation. Using letter forms, the building blocks of textual communication, my work questions the ways these moments of disruption can influence the viewer’s translation of this concept.

In a conversation, the message is not being communicated only by the presence of words; sometimes their absence is as vital in exchange of information. A suspenseful pause is an interruption, a broken link in the flow of a conversation. This intentional break results in listeners’ attention. The listeners are left in suspense, in an unpredictable silent moment when they are expected to process the given information and use it to fill in the blank with their assumptions. It is also a time for the listeners to access the right system or schema in their brain to decode the data. Parker Palmer mentions the value of silence in his book The Courage to Teach: “Words are not the sole medium of exchange in teaching and learning. We educate with silence as well.” A suspenseful pause carries anticipation and leads to raise of multiple questions in the listeners’ mind. The listeners change from passive participants into active ones.

While in a conversion listeners experience the moment of pause through lack of words, this installation uses elements of a word to create the pause. The deconstructed word and the repetition of its letter forms set the stage for this experience. Instead of the pause being a separate element in the flow of words, it is embedded inside the word. Each group of the letter forms is for the viewer to pause and think. The blue tape both connect and disconnect the letter forms; to show the times that thoughts are linked or the links are broken.

The visual translation of the concept of pause offers a deeper understanding of this concept that might not be easily perceivable when used in a conversation. The listeners consciously or unconsciously pay more attention in the presence of a pause in speech. Though a suspenseful pause seems like a disconnection and a broken link in a conversation, it facilitates inter-personal translation. As the visual translation of this concept highlights its importance in a more effective communication, it aims to literally “pause” people and challenged them to think.

PROCESS> Silence started to form as a response to an insight I wrote after listening to “Positive Psychology” lecture by Professor Ben-Shahar. In his lecture he explains the importance of embracing silence and stillness. He calls it “time-in”, as it is a time for students to look inward. I started with a poster using deconstructed letter forms and blue tape. This piece and the short motion piece I made earlier informed the composition of the installation. Not having a solid plan to use the space allowed me to make as I was thinking, reflect to each opportunity, and experiment with multiple ways of organizing the elements.

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Paper and blue tape / 2016

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