mediastudies
nl / en

Documentary Sound / Sound as Documentation

This morning workshop addresses the role of sound in documentary. The aim of the workshop is to collectively map contemporary trends in documentary sound design and to engage critically with the vocabulary available for sound analysis. Drawing on a variety of documentary examples, the workshop aims to instigate conversation around the theory and practice of sound in the digital media landscape.

This morning workshop addresses the role of sound in documentary. The aim of the workshop is to collectively map contemporary trends in documentary sound design and to engage critically with the vocabulary available for sound analysis. Drawing on a variety of documentary examples, the workshop aims to instigate conversation around the theory and practice of sound in the digital media landscape.

Documentary Sound / Sound as Documentation

Date: Tuesday, November 26, 9:30-12:30

Location: Belle van Zuylenzaal, University Library, Singel 425, Amsterdam

Registration: c.j.birdsall@uva.nl / t.pape@uva.nl 

This morning workshop addresses the role of sound in documentary. The aim of the workshop is to collectively map contemporary trends in documentary sound design and to engage critically with the vocabulary available for sound analysis. Drawing on a variety of documentary examples, the workshop aims to instigate conversation around the theory and practice of sound in the digital media landscape.

The workshop features short presentations by scholars in the fields of documentary film studies and sound studies: Ilona Hongisto (NTNU Trondheim), Asbjørn Tiller (NTNU Trondheim), Adam Szymanski (University of Freiburg) and filmmaker Ingrid Galadriel Aune Falch (Up North Productions). Each presentation will be followed by a short discussion, and the workshop will end with a closing discussion, moderated by Carolyn Birdsall and Toni Pape (UvA). 

Programme

9:30 – 9:40 Welcome

9:40 – 10:10 Ilona Hongisto: “Sound-objects: The Material Persistence of Ambient Sound in Documentary Cinema”

10:15 – 10:45 Asbjørn Tiller: “Creating Soundscapes of the Past”

10:50 – 11:20 Adam Szymanski: “Listening to the Pain: Mental Illness Documentaries at the National Film Board of Canada”

11:25 – 11:55 Ingrid Galadriel Aune Falch: Presentation of the documentary Oh, it Hertz

12:00 – 12:30 Closing discussion, moderated by Carolyn Birdsall and Toni Pape

—————

Abstracts

Ilona Hongisto: Sound-objects: The material persistence of ambient sound in documentary cinema

This paper calls for a reconceptualization of ambient sound in documentary cinema. Locating itself to debates concerning the digital turn in filmmaking, the paper argues that ambient sound has risen to prominence in ways that require reworking the premises and parameters of documentary sound. The paper sets out to fulfil this task by doing a close-reading of Sergei Loznitsa’s Austerlitz (2016) with a focus on the materiality of digital sound, the sonic transitions between on-screen and off-screen spaces as well as the motivations behind aural close-ups. With an analysis of the digital aesthetics of documentary sound, the paper offers the term ‘sound-object’ as a way to come to terms with the contemporary transformation of documentary soundscapes. 

Asbjørn Tiller: Creating soundscapes of the past

The paper explores the relationship between the use of archival film footage and contemporary sound design. The outset for the discussion is the feature length archival compilation film Home Town – Stories from a Century (Trondheimsreisen) (Skatvold, 2018), which is made entirely by using archival film footage from the town of Trondheim. The first clips being from 1906, and the last ones from 1985. The main part of the archival footage in the film was silent. For this background there has been created a modern sound design including background noises, sound effects and Foley for the entire film. In addition, the voice-overs in the film are people sharing their own personal experiences and memories from past times. The discussion will highlight the relationship between these sonic elements and the archival footage by use of terms like sound souvenirs, sound marks and sound icons.

Adam Szymanski: Listening to the Pain: Mental Illness Documentaries at the National Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada’s catalogue expresses a longstanding concern for mental health. This roundtable intervention appeals to a cluster of documentaries about living with mental illness to show how by listening to the testimonies of their on-screen subjects, these documentarists enacte a radical type of mental health activism which called into question the epistemological foundations of psychiatry while imbuing discourses mental health with a political and existential dimension. Films up for discussion include Cottonland (dir. Nance Ackerman, 2006), a documentary about the effects of an opioid epidemic in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Sentenced to Life (dir. Marie Cadieux, 2003) which focuses on the story of a woman who was sentenced to life in prison when she was just nineteen years old; and David With F.A.S. (dir. Gil Cardinal, 1997), a film about a young man’s daily battle with the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Ingrid Galadriel Aune Falch: Presentation of the documentary Oh, it Hertz

Have you ever wondered how sound affects you? The documentary Oh, it Hertz! explores the hidden universe of sound. Sound that can kill cancer. Sound that can be a weapon, that can make objects fly and bridges crumble. Sound that we can’t hear, but which possess the power to make us feel good or bad. 

With this film we gain fascinating insights about how sound affects our ears, bodies, psyche and soul. Insights that can be difficult to convey on film because, in isolation, it is too technical and inaccessible. Producer Ingrid Galadriel Aune Falch will give a short presentation of the film and some of the visual material.

2 December 2019, admin