Diagram of A Silent Garden
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light

Diagram of a Silent Garden is an open call for a group show, using the title for a prompt and general invitation. Intended to reflect a range of practice in flux with Covid-19, we hoped to create a space to reconsider making work in our new condition. Initiated to be printed matter, not for sale, and distributed solely to the contributors, as our participant pool expanded the project naturally shifted into online form. We are proud to publish these pieces and thankful to those who took the time. This site has become a wide index of these practices, and in an ever-growing nature will continue to be open to new submissions, with the spirit of open discussion.

Core Team: Brian Sing, Jared Fellows; 3D Identity with Ted Youjong Kim; type design & web development by Jake Brussel Faria.

the field of voice­less flow­ers

Joe Hirsch

Image of a Skull Overgrown with Roots

After my moth­er’s fu­neral, my fa­ther and I had promised each other a trip to the Field of Voiceless Flowers” as a means to re­con­nect with one an­other and mourn mom’s death.

My fa­ther was the UNs eco­nomic con­sul­tant for un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries, so his work took him to a lot of ig­nored places in the world. He loved his jobs since it al­lowed him to lis­ten to sto­ries that oth­er­wise would have never left a vil­lage no one’s ever heard of. He would tell me those sto­ries dur­ing the short months be­tween trips. The one that res­onated with me the most was about the Field of Voiceless Flowers”.

During the Vietnam War, there was a sup­ply route in Laos that was ideal for ve­hi­cle trans­porta­tion, nat­u­rally, the American’s im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was to na­palm it, gain vi­sion over the route and bomb it when­ever some­one drove through it. This route was nick­named 5th Ave” since it was one way only”.  As the war pro­gressed and the bat­tle­front shifted over and that de­for­ested area be­came an ideal route to move US troops across. The Vietcong were no fools they made sure to po­si­tion them­selves so that the ideal route for the Americans to take was 5th Ave”. One morn­ing 300 Men walked into 5th Ave” think­ing it was an­other hike, it was rid­dled with hun­dreds of land­mines. 50 had died by sun­set. Panicking troops lead to a chain re­ac­tion of mines. They were stuck not know­ing if they were at the edge of mine­fields or the dead cen­ter. A he­li­copter evac­u­a­tion was not pos­si­ble since they could­n’t se­cure a land­ing zone. The wounded could­n’t be car­ried out and the rest we shack­led by fear. Most of the wounded died slowly un­able to re­ceive treat­ment. Desperate men ran across the field, many of them suc­cess­ful on their run, but some turned to pools of blood. It took the army 3 days to get all the troops out. A lot of bod­ies were left there.

Decades af­ter the war ended my fa­ther went out to 5th Ave” for ground­work on mine dis­cov­ery and dis­posal. The lo­cals took him to the Field of Voiceless Flowers”. Not re­ally there” but at a vis­i­ble dis­tance down from a hill­side. Along miles of thick tree lines, there was a clear bor­der where the trees ended and a hoard of wild­flow­ers lit­tered the mine­field. It was called the Field of Voiceless Flowers” since there was no one there to hear it and noth­ing there to make a sound. My fa­ther said it was the most well-com­posed view he had en­coun­tered in his years abroad. He used to dream a lot about tak­ing a stroll through the Field of Voiceless Flower” but chuck­led that they turned to night­mares since he would wake up af­ter step­ping on a mine. Not the best story to tell an 11-year-old but it en­graved a mys­ti­cal scenery in my head.

During my anx­i­ety-rid­den teenage years, when I wanted a mo­ment of si­lence in my head I would imag­ine what it would be like to take a stroll across the Field of Voiceless Flowers”. Under a clear blue sky, I em­braced every step I took on the dirt. Avoiding the flow­ers as much as pos­si­ble. Skeletons scat­tered along a thick path of wild­flow­ers. Step af­ter step I start to for­get there are mines hid­den un­der every flower root. I pace faster and faster un­til I’m run­ning, kick­ing flow­ers one bush af­ter an­other. I fly up in the air and watch as my body scat­ters over the mo­saic of col­ors. I close my eyes and imag­ine what col­ors my flesh will be once I rot and be­come one with the dirt. I usu­ally pon­der which body part would land on the floor first.

My mother was di­ag­nosed with can­cer when I had just turned 34. I was em­ployed by Google as a net­work en­gi­neer at their Japanese head­quar­ter. I picked up Bonsai gar­den­ing in my spare time. My fa­vorite part about grow­ing a bon­sai was that it was never com­plete since it al­ways kept on grow­ing. It was hard for me to leave my Bonsai plants to go care for mom with dad. I’d asked my land­lord, who had got­ten me into the hobby to take care of them while I was gone. Mother would die 3 weeks af­ter my re­turn. I went back to Japan the night af­ter the fu­neral.

At noon in Laos, half a year af­ter my moth­er’s fu­neral I and my fa­ther had climbed up the hill­side over­look­ing the Field of Voiceless Flower” and set up for lunch. We had got­ten some chicken Ba Mihn from the nearby vil­lage. The vil­lagers were very happy to see my fa­ther since he had helped them set up a fruit busi­ness that al­lowed their chil­dren to go to school. I told him the vil­lagers are your Bonsai. He said, yeah sure”. After we fin­ished our lunch, he jok­ingly said: hey do you want to get a closer look?” I said why not.

After a week in Laos I re­turned to Japan, I had not an­tic­i­pated my ex­tended stay and many of my bon­sai were dead or had over­grown. I had to start a new vase.


My il­lus­tra­tive work re­volves around nar­ra­tives that use mys­ti­cism as a means of ex­plor­ing con­ven­tional norms. Following the works of Yuki Urushibara & Hitoshi Iwaaaki, I hope to ex­plore the com­plex­i­ties of the hu­man con­di­tion through the weird and the strange.

Joe