Touched Echo: The Sound of a Ghost


Session Title:

  • Exploring and Experimenting with Sound

Presentation Title:

  • Touched Echo: The Sound of a Ghost




  • Sound unfolds in time and disperses in space. It arrives from a distance and resonates in the body of the listener. As an ephemeral phenomenon it disappears again, but comes back as an echo. Hereby sound represents the presence of an absence, something that is and is not. In short a ghost.

    Touched Echo by German artist Markus Kison is a public sound installation shown at “Brühlsche Terrasse” in the city of Dresden in 2007.

    The installation presents the sound of the allied bombing of Dresden on the 13th February 1945 from original recordings. The sounds are hidden as vibrations in the railing running the length of the terrace. The listener has to place his/her elbows on the railing and wrists at the skull, in order to hear the sound, which is then led into the cranium through the bones of the forearm.  The posture of the listener resembles the posture one normally takes in order to avoid listening. This is a feature of the artwork, since it is a posture one can imagine the victims of the actually bombing took in order to protect themselves from the horrifying noise.

    In the paper I will discuss the ghostly nature of sound and how echoing sounds of the past, in this case the sound of the allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945, interferes with reality as history on one side (known, objective and factual) and something lived on the other (remembered, recalled and experienced).  The relationship between the remembered and the known, the subjective experience and the historical fact that “Touched Echo” touches upon, echoes today’s political debate of this incidence as either an act of war or an act of terror; A debate that concerns Dresden as a haunted place, the land of a ghost.

    In order to qualify my discussion of “Touched Eco” and the ghostly nature of sound, I will draw upon Jacques Derridas concept of Hauntology and Gaston Bachelard idea of the Miniature. The aim is to unfold a discussion that concerns sound ontology, sound as interface and related perspectives around control, authority and sociality.

PDF Document: