The Great Silence

The Sounds of Silence: A Reading List About Listening to Nature

The Great Silence (2014) interrogates our drive to find other intelligent minds in the distant static of space while millions of complex lifeforms right here on Earth face existential threats of humanity’s making. Narrated from the perspective of an endangered Puerto Rican parrot dwelling in the rainforests near Arecibo, the experimental work weaves the mythos of the Hindu ‘Om’, the science of the Fermi paradox and the story of a domesticated parrot named Alex, famed for learning some 150 human words, into its expansive narrative. In doing so, the Puerto Rico-based artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla and the US science fiction writer Ted Chiang craft a provocative reflection on humanity’s not-so-lonely place in the Universe, existing besides a vast and still-mysterious constellation of minds that most of us rarely even consider.

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