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Tom Whittaker has recently published an article entitled ‘Ghostly resonance: sound, memory, and matter in Dies d’agost and Las olas’ in a special issue in Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, which is dedicated to spectrality and Spanish film, and edited by Steven Marsh.

Las_olas-872365279-largeAs the article shows, the recent Spanish films Las olas (Alberto Morais, 2011) and Dies dagost (Marc Recha, 2006) are haunted by sound. Of the recent flurry of films to turn on the theme of historical memory in Spain, Las olas and Dies dagost stand out as distinctive in their particular sensitivity to sound design, and their shared concern with the act of listening. As this article shows, the films explore the relationship between sound and memory: like sound, memory is evanescent and unstable, fading through time. As such, the films do not so much contribute towards the recuperation of historical memory as reveal its very limitations. By drawing upon Derrida’s Specters of Marx through the disciplines of sound studies, archaeology and human geography, the article hopes to demonstrate how sound can have a significant spectral presence in film. Sound, it argues, serves to disrupt and unsettle the temporality of the films, revealing a time that is “out of joint” with its past, present and future. Spectral sounds not only challenge the narrativisation of historical memory, but also undermine the materiality of the image, casting doubt on the stability and certainty of both time and matter. Both absent and present, material and immaterial, haunted sounds powerfully articulate unspeakable memories of the recent past, whose horrors and residual echoes ultimately resist the discourse of recuperation.

Dr Whittaker’s article forms part of a wider research project on sound in Spanish cinema, which has included a number of articles and book chapters on dubbing, the voice, rhythm and ambient sounds. His interest in sound has also led to an edited anthology (with Sarah Wright) on the voice in world cinemas entitled Locating the Voice in Film: Global Approaches and Critical Practices (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

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