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Dr. Joseph Young


University College Dublin




Thesis Title

Killruddery: Listening to the archive. Sonic hauntings in a Big House


Through listening, this thesis explores an historic private archive which is housed at the Killruddery estate in Bray, County Wicklow, in order to develop new ways of telling the story of an Irish aristocratic dynasty, the Brabazons, who have lived and worked on the estate since 1618. Its purpose is to contribute to a sonified understanding of the Big House in Irish cultural and social history.

From conversations with the family, investigation of the written archives, and recordings of the architecture and surrounding landscape, the research examines the idea that the archive is haunted by its own past and that by summoning the sonic spectres of archive through technological intervention, via so-called ‘Stone Tape Theory’, the mythologies of its role as a heritage space in contemporary Ireland can be brought to audition. The primary field of knowledge is located within the discipline of Sound Studies. The
cognate fields are Sonic hauntology, Soundwalking, Binaural Phonography, Mobile Media Art and Sonic Agency.

The research utilises the practice-based methodology of an Artist-in-Residence to produce a
critical construct entitled haunting the archive, drawing on a notion of hauntology initially developed by Derrida (2006), both as a means to investigate the archive and expressed in the creation of a public artwork, The Ancestors, made in response. Specifically, the principal research methods are soundwalking, field recording, interviews, studio composition, and performance leading to the creation of interactive soundscapes, historical re-enactments and audio essays, geo-fenced within the grounds of the Killruddery estate. The thesis and the practice together constitute an original and substantial contribution to knowledge by extending Labelle’s notion of ‘sonic agency’ (2018) through connecting elements of Critical Theory with related studies by Eshun, Voegelin and Schulze which explore ideas and practices of ‘sonic fiction’, to show how the creation of a hauntological sound trail informed by a critically engaged sonic arts praxis, can challenge our understanding of official narratives at a significant Irish heritage site.



Joseph Young is sound artist based between Brighton, Berlin and Bray.
Joseph’s practice engages with the contemporary sound world to consider what it has to tell us about the prevailing culture and social conditions. It begins with the creative process of soundwalking – listening to, and then recording everyday sounds, to engage in a deeper and more immersive understanding of place. He utilises the binaural recording technique to capture sonic environments, a process in which the entire body becomes a microphone.
Joseph’s sound works are held in several permanent collections and his installation and performance practice has been shown extensively in the UK and internationally including: Seoul Art Space Mullae, British Ceramics Biennial 2017, Towner Art Gallery, Shetland Museum & Archives, Errant Sound Berlin, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Pallant House, Jerwood Hastings, Estorick Collection and Seoul Museum of Art.
Joseph’s research project takes the Brabazon family archive as a starting point to explore the complexities of the Killruddery estate in Bray, County Wicklow, in order to uncover new ways of telling the story of an Anglo-Irish aristocratic family and their place in the Irish landscape, from 1618 to the present day.
Through conversations with the family, exploration of the written archive and recording the landscape in which the archive is contained, the research explores the idea that the archive is haunted by its own histories and that through auto-topographic research strategies these ‘spectres’ (Ed. Fink, Kohl & Siegert, 2020) can be amplified and placed within a theoretical and site-specific context to examine their potential as a metaphor for social change.

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