Giant Megaphones Give Voice to Estonian Forest – A Lesson in ‘Silent’ Casual Collision

Experimental composer John Cage, once wrote a piece of music titled 4’33” – the silent piece, and it consists entirely of silence. For the performance, pianist David Tudor walked on stage, sat at the piano and played nothing for a total of four minutes and thirty three seconds. A piece that was written with the intent of projecting sounds of an environment, it was able to capture the speculative and restless nature of an annoyed audience packed within a traditional western concert hall. An audience who bought tickets to actually hear music versus rumblings and the sounds of the piano lid being opened and closed three different times by Tudor. Since then, some would say 4’33” has gone on to become one of the most important and iconic performance art pieces since post world war. Why? Because it challenged the norm. A composer known for creating sound now has created silence. Cage said, “wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.”

Set deep inside an Estonian forest and miles away from its capital, oversized megaphones have been created to project the natural sounds of its surrounding. Megaphones by definition is a large funnel-shaped device for amplifying and directing the voice. In this case, the natural voices of the forest. Whether it be birds, wind, water, leaves, tress falling etc. Or maybe campers, performance artists, families, and wandering adventurists?

Interior design students at Estonian Academy of Arts were challenged with a project to create a forest library. Among the long list of submissions, “russ” was selected and commissioned through the assistance of many supporters. In the end, three giant multi-functional megaphones allow for meditation, relaxation, and community engagement. Some use it as sleep quarters for the night, while others use it for music and storytelling. And when they aren’t being used in a traditional human sense, they sit together strategically placed so to project the natural sounds of its surrounding environment. Imagine that, an instrument designed for projecting noise has been designed to project ‘silence’? How very Cage and Tudor of Estonia. At Reveal we call this silent casual collision. In this case intentional for its design purpose, however a perfect happenstance with two stories 70 years apart.

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