“Nature abhors a vacuum.”
Perhaps you’ve heard that before.
It’s a postulate attributed to Aristotle. A concept in physics that means nature requires every space to be filled. That there are no naturally-occurring empty spaces because denser surrounding material immediately and always fills a void.
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but artists are in love with them.
A quick Google search will yield a plethora of love note quotes from artists to their vacuums. You just have to know the lingo.
In the visual arts, vacuums are called empty, or white space. And in music, the code word for vacuum is silence.
Here are two such quotes:
“I really believe in empty spaces…Empty space is never-wasted space.” – Andy Warhol
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
If it is indeed true that there are no naturally-occurring empty spaces because surrounding material immediately and always fills a void, then the next natural question is this.
What exactly is filling the void of empty space and silence?
I believe the answer is “attention.”
As we consume visual and auditory art, it is the silence and space that pulls our attention in. It’s the silence and space that leaves a void our attention must fill.
If you need proof, talk to any parent with a sleeping infant in the car. It’s not the driving that wakes them up.
How can use this to practical effect? (Besides driving baby around the block a few more times to stave off the inevitable.)
If you run radio ads, and the station will let you, put 2-3 seconds of well-placed silence in your ad. Dead air. The effect will be an immediate inrush of attention. Then, just make sure once you’ve got their attention you say something meaningful.
But again, if the radio station will let you.
Much like nature, station programmers abhor a vacuum.
– Zac Smith, VC