Silence is a source of Great Strength.” ― Lao Tzu. Silence is one of life’s true enigmas, and this why photographer Nathan Wirth has made it his focus of exploration in Slices of Silence. Slices of Silence is a dramatic monochrome series created by Wirth, a self-taught artist who resides in San Francisco, California.
He employs a myriad of techniques and methods, such as deliberate camera movement as well as long exposures to create and articulate his “unending wonder of the fundamental fact of existence.” Wirth acquired a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University, and with that literary background, his work evokes poetic imagery.
It comes as no surprise that famous bards have greatly influenced and moulded both his outlook and artistic style. Great poets like Lorine Niedecker, Elizabeth Bishop, George Oppen, James Schuyler, Seamus Heaney, William Wordsworth, George Mackay Brown and Robert Frost are among his influences.
Wirth likes to revisit a certain destination often, seeking to immerse himself in the stillness and tranquillity of those locations. Wirth further indulges the poet in him not just through his pictures, but by teaching English Composition at the City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University.
Slices of Silence is a beautiful work-in-progress, showcasing deserted landscapes which all evoke that sense of pensive peace which Wirth loves to explore. The striking monochrome images show desolate trees, or sometimes a solitary man, standing on undulating landscapes shot mostly in Sonoma and Marin counties in Northern California.
A melancholic mood drapes these images through gray skies that envelop each backdrop. There is a suspended feeling of anxiety that holds the short-lived tranquillity a captive of the moment. One of Wirth’s tricks is an infrared-converted camera, giving a striking presence and feel to each image in Slices of Silence. The hauntingly creepy silence clutches each and every one of these muted, abandoned places, and the choice of black and white medium makes the mood even more unsettling in its ironic serenity.
See Wirth’s visual poetry in Slices of Silence here.