A Manual for
Listening to Quiet
September 2016

Centre for Research Architecture,
Goldsmiths College

“That won’t help you,” said the policemen, who always became very quiet, almost sad, when K. began to shout, and in that way confused him or, to some extent, brought him to his senses.
The Trial, Franz Kafka. 1925

To become quiet is usually regarded in a similar way to becoming passive, signifying that one has weakened their capacity to act in a situation. If to speak is to validate one’s existence, ‘our voices must be registered, and so we must be heard’, does being quiet mean that one is no longer participating or have given up their right to act? Quiet is an intrinsic part of all relations but has been consigned, by our contemporary political culture, to exist in the background of events. Here, quiet is considered firstly through the notion of presence as a political form  that precedes speech and secondly what it means to be quiet vis-à-vis power.

The archive comprises instances of quiet that emerge in varying situations that touch upon or grasp at the technique of governing. By inquiring methodologically into a condition, as opposed to anthropologically into a group of people who embody that condition or are affected by it, agencies are realigned to consider quiet not only as an absence of speech but also as a responsive relation between those things which share a presence.

©2020 Phoebe Eustance