Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

'Dead air': The acoustic of war and peace - creative interpretations of the sound of conflict and remembrance

Davies, Katie; Gough, Paul


Katie Davies
Academic Associate Lecturer - FET - CSCT

Paul Gough


N Saunders

P Cornish


On 11th November 2001, Jonty Semper released a two CD album, Kenotaphion, which captured the empty sounds of seventy years of Two Minute Silences recorded at the Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday ceremonies at the Cenotaph in London. The earliest recording was from a British Movie-tone newsreel of 1929. Taking as its starting point Semper‟s sounds of absence, this paper will feature the work of Francis Alys, whose installation "Guards‟ (2004-5) relied as much on the sound of marching boots as it did on the strict choreography of filmed guardsmen. The paper will focus also on more recent recordings of the repatriation ceremonies at Wootton Bassett as captured by the film maker Katie Davies; her film "The Separation Line‟ will be shown as an example of how loss can be captured through omission and reliance on an aural sense over the visual.

Modern Conflict and the Senses investigates the sensual worlds created by modern war, focusing on the sensorial responses embodied in and provoked by the materiality of conflict and its aftermath. The volume positions the industrialized nature of twentieth-century war as a unique cultural phenomenon, in possession of a material and psychological intensity that embodies the extremes of human behaviour, from total economic mobilization to the unbearable sadness of individual loss. Adopting a coherent and integrated hybrid approach to the complexities of modern conflict, the book considers issues of memory, identity, and emotion through wartime experiences of tangible sensations and bodily requirements. This comprehensive and interdisciplinary collection draws upon archaeology, anthropology, military and cultural history, art history, cultural geography, and museum and heritage studies in order to revitalize our understandings of the role of the senses in conflict.


Davies, K., & Gough, P. (2017). 'Dead air': The acoustic of war and peace - creative interpretations of the sound of conflict and remembrance. In P. Cornish, & N. Saunders (Eds.), Modern Conflict and the Senses, 93-105. Routledge

Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2016
Publication Date Mar 6, 2017
Journal Modern Conflict and the Senses
Print ISSN 9781138927827
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 93-105
Book Title Modern Conflict and the Senses
ISBN 9781138927827
Publisher URL

You might also like

Downloadable Citations