Listening to the Silence
Director: Yulia Sapozhnikova
Producer: Alexey Petrukhin
Runtime: 52 min
Countries: Russia, Germany, Austria
Stage: In Development
Transmedia platform: Channel One Russia Screening formats: HD, Dolby Digital Submission formats: HD, Dolby Digital Planned release: 1. 12. 2021
Сreative, Educational, Environmental, Experimental, Life Sciences, Nature, Philosophy, Portrait, Society, Travel
The scientists are carrying out unique experiments at the deepest lake in the world — Lake Baikal — aimed to record the sounds of fish and to investigate the micro-world of their sensors.
There are many legends about the deepest lake in the world — Lake Baikal. Local people think it to be a sacred place because of the multitude of sounds often ascribed to some mystic creatures. The belief of the humans that the living beings inhabiting the water are unable to utter sounds served of base to the proverbial “silent as a fish” (“keep mum as a fish”). Nevertheless, water depth is deprived of silence. In 1986 Paul Winter, jazzman and founder of the musical style “eco-jazz” recorded the sounds of Baikal and made with them a concert at MGU (Moscow State University). And the scientists are constantly carrying out unique experiments at the lake aimed to record the sounds of fish and to investigate the micro-world of their sensors. For a long time Baikal has been staying empty of people. This is the reason why at some spots the primordial nature has been conserved, but there is a serious problem of the modernity – the acoustic pollution of the water environment. Arthur Popper’s research proved the fish dying because of the noise produced by humans. The nature speaks in its own voice, but are we always able to hear it?!
Participants of the expedition and characters of the film: These are three generations of researchers of Baikal studying the sound and the hearing of the water organisms. Khanaev Igor
Veniaminovich, diver, pupil of the doctor of sciences, sonarman. Sideleva Valentina Grigorievna, ichthyologist, doctor of sciences, researcher of fish’ seismo-sensory system. Klimenkov Igor Viktorovich, researcher of the ultrastructure of fish’ sensors, candidate of sciences. Sapozhnikova Yulia Pavlovna, film director, pupil of the researcher of the ultrastructure of fish’ sensors. Gasarov Polikarp Vladimirovich, student, pupil of the director.
The itinerary of the ship: Listvyanka – Baikal Port – Peschanaya Bay – Maloe More – Olkhon Island – Ushkan Islands – Barguzin Gulf – Svyatoy Nos Peninsula – Bolshiye Koty village. At these points there are different sources of natural noise on Baikal lake: Barguzin wind bringing good weather and Kultuk wind accompanying bad weather in the Barguzin Gulf, Barguzin river’s noise, roaring “singing sands” on the shore of the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula and Peschanaya Bay, the snapping of the century-old trees in the area of the abandoned Peschanoye village, thunderstorms, roar of the surf, rocks’ crash on the Maloe More (Small Sea), cavitation and burst of methane bubbles during its emitting, Baikal seals crying at the Ushkan Islands, underground thunderstorms in the area of the Olkhon Island, sounds of Baikal fish: underwater splashes accompanying the prey’s catch made by the Baikal Gobies in the coastal zone, its crunch during chewing, sounds uttered by Baikal sculpins’ male at
nestling, sounds of the whitefish run in the depth of water (sounds recorded with hydrophone), sounds of defense against
predators appearing in active movement underwater.
Scientific objectives of the expedition: All the characters of the film are researchers dealing with the sounds of Baikal as well as sounds and hearing of the water organisms and using different technical devices to fix it with regard to its origins (hydrophones, oscillograph, confocal and scanning microscope, specially designed apparatus EthoStudio). The viewer is watching at the carrying of different experiments aboard the ship, it is important to get him involved into the experiment as an equal and to make him not only an exterior observer but its participant. In order to create this effect the characters (researchers) will act as cameramen (scientific fixation of data) shooting all the process of the experiments and discussing its results addressing the spectator as their colleague not present in the image. In presence of the spectator, the researchers will carry out following experiments: estimation of the intensive sound stimulation of the fish in the lake (in the fish-well an underwater loudspeaker will be used and a sampling of the sensory epithelial tissue of the hearing organs will be carried out), the availability of different organs and sections of hearing of the water organisms to be explained (lateral line and acoustic organs of hearing proper, using the pincers and scissors a dissection of the organs is made with fixing it through the binocular), in the course of the expedition a long-term experiment is carried out subject research of the destruction of the hearing cells under the sound impact as well as processes of its restoration; in the experiment the researchers demonstrate such phenomena as near and distant hearing fields, carry out an experiment of research of the hearing cells’ polarization in live organisms (to explain the phenomenon of targeted or directional hearing); the diapason of sensitivity of the fish is studied (researchers drawing an analogy with the humans that also can hear in different diapasons which is causing misunderstanding among them), as a result of this experiment a group of researchers gets sonograms (with spectra of produced sound) and audiograms (with spectra of the hearing sensitivity) of different water organisms, processes of adaptation of the hearing system and behavior of the fish in different living conditions are discussed (touching to the mechanisms of the evolution’s process), and at last, in the area of Maloe More a hydroacoustic scanning is made for the purpose of registering the quantity of Baikal omul using ultrasonic frequencies (with the help of an echo-sounding device and a trawl).
The form of the film is dictated by the mystic world of Baikal lake sounds: one big expedition with a number of acoustic experiments makes the viewer immerse into the everyday work of researchers “in the field” where during the long expedition every one of the main characters recalls his first meeting with Baikal sounds, thinks to his first expedition and his colleagues that are already gone but whom his present is tightly connected with. All these memories are but mirages often besieging travelers at Baikal when staying there for a considerable time.
The objective of the camera at these moments is to shoot the silent participants of the expedition, because the interaction among the characters takes place at some other level during years of cooperation the colleagues learned an unconditional understanding among them, having formed their own particular language. The sound in the film: monologues of the characters behind the camera, each of them discovering the attitude of the character toward the subject of research, the story of his formation as scientist and his relationship with the other characters of the film.
The essence in the image: Immobility is silence, any movement provokes some sound. The silence is translated into the image by its slowdown, the sound – by its acceleration. The sound means life. There’s no absolute silence on the Earth. The absence of the sound or its abundance provoke discomfort, this is why the search of harmony is so important. Harmony is crucial in all contexts – social, interpersonal harmony, harmony in relations with the others and with the world. A human being cannot perceive by his ear an absolute silence because anyway he is bound to hear the sound of his heartbeat and his blood flow in his vessels, so being in the situation of the natural harmony he begins to hear himself, his inner voice. In the film we see a scientist, a researcher of nature and his search for himself and for harmony – to get the “white knowledge” – mutual understanding between humans and nature. In the human world the verbal communication is not only “not necessary” for agreement and mutual understanding, but can become an obstacle because of the big number of conventionalities. Baikal unites people of the same way of thinking, and the researchers dealing with underwater organisms become similar to the latter. The consolidation of the expedition’s members in their common difficult work arises when they don’t need words anymore, every one of them busy with his own research and seeing his colleagues in their common work, when the co-workers become one and the same – one mechanism, one organism, one soul.
Formal Intent: I am planning to film during the foreseen complex round-Baikal expedition by the scientific ship “G.Y.Vereshchagin” (scientific research ship of the Limnological Research Institute of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences) for two weeks in July.
Reference: Gleb Yurievich Vereshchagin (14.04.1889-01.02.1944) – Russian soviet scientist, limnologist, hydro-biologist, scientific organizer, researcher of the Baikal lake, doctor of geographic sciences, professor. Creator and unchallenged head of the Baikal limnological station of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1930-1944), that gave place to the Limnological Research Institute and to the research of Baikal as a whole.
Sample video description/note:
Prior completed work :
email@example.com, +7 9149509604
Ph.D. in biology, research assistant of the Ichthyology Lab of the Limnological Institute of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the AllRussian Hydro-biological Association and of the Fishery Society of the British Isles, Head of the Children’s Animation Studio “Mukha”, participant of
creative projects “Present me with my Life”, “Animation Academy”, “Irkutsk-VISION”, “Kino-Sreda”, “MIR submersibles in Baikal”, “Irkutsk – Learning City”, “Youth’s Theatrical Movement”, author of a number of scientific publications, organizer of international and national scientific conferences subject Baikal lake’s problems. Sphere of scientific interest: hearing of the fish, sensory physiology, bio-hydro-acoustics, fish behavior, ultra-structural analysis method, Baikal.
Films: “Lessons of Life” (producer, editor), “Russia starts at the station” (term work, director, camera), video-performance “With your wings – to the light” (scriptwriter, camera)
Russian Film Group
firstname.lastname@example.org, +7 (495)3080021
Cinematographer: Yulia Sapozhnikova Editor: Yulia Sapozhnikova
Sound: Paul Winter
Music: Paul Winter
Executive Producer: Alexey Petrukhin