Soundscapes of Recollection: Filmed Testimony and Memory Work in Documentary Cinema. A project financed by the Swedish Research Council (2016-02504. “Att ge röst åt det förflutna: Vittnesmål och minnesarbete I dokumentärfilmen”)
The project aims at a film theory of sound and audiovisuality, with special attention to the aesthetics and agency of voice and filmed testimony in documentary cinema. Providing a critical reassessment of cinema, trauma and film as memory work, the proposed study will account for overlooked aspects of mediated voice and documentary soundscapes. The analysis will address problems of historiography, cultural memory and ethics in documentary cinema, while conceptualizing the affective impact of voice and sound in film narratives of loss and trauma; a context where scholarly attention has primarily been paid to a poetics of visual traces or visible evidence.
What is often at stake in the experienced realm of filmed speech is, as Jean Epstein suggested, “a certain degree of contradiction between image and speech, of falsehood between the eye and the ear”, and, we may add, between what the person says and her gestures, between the words and, to paraphrase Barthes, “the grain of the voice” (Barthes, 1977). This has always been at the core of filmed speech, and particularly so in the case of the filmed testimony. In the wake of historical traumas, documentary approaches to history, memory, and forgetting bring attention to the politics of cultural memory and the cultural functions and social rituals of commemoration culture in moving images.