“Number” – Silent Sound Project – Adam

Here is the link to my project. It’s a pdf although ideally it would be read from a printed paper.


Title is “Number”.



Artist Statement



This piece is only intended to be read silently so that the audience can subjectively interpret the sound of the text. Structurally, the piece is simply an evolution of a single word (“number”) and by slowly corrupting and changing the appearance of that word it manages to reflect and amplify the phenomenon of semantic satiation which is when words start to sound strange the more you say them (or read them).


My primary influence for this piece came from John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing and from his poetry, notably his mesostics. Cage attempted to create compositions through read/spoken words and typography. “Number” expands on this idea by placing a great deal of emphasis on the size of characters, styles (italics, bold, etc.), and the use of unusual characters that are similar to the standard alphabet but strange enough that they don’t evoke a specific sound other than the suggestion that it is similar to but different than the character it is replacing.


Another influence of mine came from that of post-modern poetry and its trends in general; the experience I’m attempting to create, though rooted in the aural, is very much related to some of these trends. Some of the works of E.E. Cummings such as “The Grasshopper” and the works of Bruce Andrews such as “I Can’t Resist the Craving for Another Inhalation” use the idea of strange, manipulated text used to evoke a unique response. The latter of these examples puts an emphasis on empty space, or what is sometimes referred to as “ma”, which is an idea that is also reflected in this piece. There is a great deal of white space that is minamalistically punctuated with small periods, numbers, and small characters to emphasize the experience and the intensity of the space. The space itself helps to suggest how long the reader should pause between words but the scattered punctuating strokes are intended to help to sustain their involvement in the space. This technique of punctuating space is directly derived from Lecture on Nothing although a notable difference is that my placement of these dots is also intended to aid in the subtle visual directing of the reader (top left to bottom right).


This is the first in a series of works I intend to create utilizing these concepts and techniques.




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