Thembi Soddell

Jonathan Marshall

Like Camilla Hannan, Thembi Soddell is a grit/throb/atmosphere artist whose compositions featured in the early work of RMIT’s ((tRansMIT)) collective, helping to establish the Liquid Architecture festival. Where Hannan’s sound and installation work often has a cinematic, foley quality, laid out within spacious, hissy caverns (eg 4-Way Dam in 360 degrees: Women in sound, 2003), Soddell’s is arguably more abstract and mysterious. Her most recent piece—the superb installation Intimacy (also in 360 degrees)—was characterised by sudden jumps and cut-offs in sound, stochastic drop-outs in volume which revealed, on subsequent listening, a pre-existing subtext of sound now rising within the mix. The setting of Intimacy within a dark, claustrophobic alcove, bordered by heavy, red felt curtains, exaggerated its erotic and, at times, genuinely frightening trajectories. Soddell’s CV reveals her particular interest in the subconscious, psychological transformation of sound and space, which she prompts in the listener using processed field recordings and by exploring thresholds of perception. From an apparently ‘silent’ audio space comes a terrifying point of sound which then vanishes before it reaches such a conclusion that allows tension to be released. Although Intimacy represents the summit of this approach, Soddell has been moving towards it in pieces featured in the Document 03-Diffuse compilation (Dorobo, 2001) and the gallery showing and recording Gating (West Space, 2002). In her frightening fluxion between the organic (processed water sounds, air, etc) and the electronic, Soddell incites tense listening.

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 37

© Jonathan Marshall; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003
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