I’m a loud person. I like making noise. My favourite part of the very quiet, very sophisticated game of Boggle is the bit where I get to frantically shake the rigid plastic box of solid plastic cubes until someone tells me to stop. I like background noise. I don’t crave silence. I can sleep through anything. It just doesn’t bother me.

Silence, to me, is a miracle. An act of magic. I can understand that others may desire it. But, it isn’t real. As earthly creatures, we are wading through an airy soup constantly in motion, pulsing and disturbed. Even when we are not able to hear it, sound is there, rippling around. Waves ricocheting off surfaces, tickling eardrums and other auditory organs.

An echo is a return, but also a distortion. The wave slams into something, bounces off, loses power, and comes back to us where we stand. In the space of that return, it is inflected by so many things. Other sounds, the temperature of the air, the surrounding physical landscape. The echo comes back to us bearing imprints. Sound is additive, but what completely overwhelms me, a quality of our world that is almost so perfect as to be unbelievable, it is also… subtractive.

We can manufacture a pseudo-silence. When two or more sound waves line up exactly right, they can effectively cancel each other out, silence each other. Each solitary tone, a single sound wave, can be its own inverse, its own negative. In July this year, a Singaporean acoustic engineer named Bhan Lam invented a speaker that can fit into a window and allow air and light to pass through, but cancel incoming low-frequency noise. It can’t create silence, but it can create anti-noise. A possible future awaits us where the noise and bustle of daily life is vacuumed away, negated before it can pass through our doors and windows. But, if we vanish all this noise, what is left behind? Because it won’t be silence. The palimpsest of thin air.

The world we live in is constructed. Our experiences of reality are filtered through technologies we’ve adapted in our cultures and societies to make sense of the chaos we travel through. The echo comes to us from mythology, from the mechanics of sound, from lived experience. It morphs and moves from the auditory to visual. From there to the poetic, to the space of memory.

Issue #19 of The Suburban Review is an adventure into this chaotic and laminated space. Luke Patterson’s refractions and collisions of noise and bodies and histories, Carly Candiloro’s echoing calls into the void, Hannah Jenkins’s visual and auditory echoes through space, and more. This is a fascinating, and exceptionally beautiful issue. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Anupama Pilbrow
Editor in Chief