In response to the pandemic, we’ve adapted the virtual reality film Sanctuaries of Silence into an immersive listening journey into the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the quietest places in North America. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton guides us in reconnecting with the silence of the living world.
Since lockdowns began, there has been an unprecedented reduction in human-created noise. Our movements have lessened, the circle of our existence is closer, we are more still. As the din of human activity has quieted down, the sounds of the living world have come to the forefront. Around the world people have reported hearing an increase in the songs of birds, the chirping of insects, and the myriad sounds of non-human life. A newfound silence is pervading many of our environments as cars, planes, and industries have increasingly been brought to a standstill.
A couple of years ago, we spent a few days filming a virtual reality project in Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest with acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton. Gordon has traveled the globe documenting the impacts of noise pollution on the natural world. His work has revealed that silence (which he describes as the absence of human generated noise) is on the verge of extinction and that even the most remote corners of the world are impacted by the noises of modern life.
The virtual reality piece we created, Sanctuaries of Silence, shares Gordon’s story and takes you on an immersive listening journey into the Hoh, one of the largest temperate rain forests in the United States. Pacific tree frogs, Roosevelt elk, northern spotted owls, and pacific wrens are among the many creatures who call the forest home. It’s far from main roads and development, making the Hoh one of the quietest places in North America.
In response to the pandemic, we’ve adapted Sanctuaries of Silence into a podcast that we hope might help us to reconnect with silence at this particular time and listen for the value and wisdom that is present within it.