QUIES

Synopsis

Take 1
Lake Hart, 40 km north of Woomera. A salt lake in the middle of nowhere. Peter plugs in his microphone. Its grey windshield contrasts with the bright white. We start walking. When we pause the first time, there’s still the sound of an invisible car, flickering green on Peter’s equipment. Moments later all traffic has disappeared. Flies dance in front of our eyes, filling the void like noise. Later still the wind picks up. Like a whiny child, tentatively at first, then increasingly persistent. With every step we take, this nothingness changes.

Quies follows sound artist Peter Lenaerts. Microphone in hand he travels through the desert looking for silence. He doesn’t see silence as absence of sound but as space, empty space in which sound happens. A journey that leads into Australia’s empty centre.

Take 2
The desert unfolds as an endless loop. The asphalt ends and makes way for red earth. As long as we’re driving, there’s sound. Tires, squeaky seats, the radio… We stop at a deserted telegraph station along the Stuart Highway. Thousands of kilometers of wire once connected the north to the south of Australia. This is all that remains. A ghost town of whitewashed rocks and steel plates.

Quies orders thoughts like sound recordings. Every spot is a moment in time. Every track a small dot on the map. Initially chapters succeed one another chronologically… but that structure quickly unravels. We lose all sense of direction when the sound disappears. Silence puts us on the wrong track and disrupts the narrative.

Take 3
The landscape rolls by. We stop every two hours. Peter gets out and runs his fingers through his beard. Soft crackling in the thin dry air. After a day’s drive, we arrive in Coober Pedy, a mining town, sunken underground. The houses dug in just below the surface of the earth. All you can hear inside is your own blood pumping. Total silence, intense, oppressive. What remains is a low pulsating drone and slightly higher some kind of static, like the hissing of an old record. Down here you’re all alone with yourself, staring into a mirror of sound.

Silence won’t be captured. The search for it can. With the microphone as sensor, all sound is stripped away, layer by layer. Civilization disappears, absorbed by the desert. What remains is the artist himself. Like in anechoic chambers, all ambient sound is filtered away until only the object’s frequency remains in the room. Quies shows that search. As a road movie, a thriller, a document, a record…

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