A sound creation

February 7, 2023

Articles, Mandie's Pick

A unique exhibition, As Yet Untitled, can be experienced at the Norval Foundation – a sound installation synchronised to resonate with the risings, culminations, and settings of the sun, planets, galaxies, and star clusters in relation to the freshwater wetland in the sculpture garden. The installation offers an immersive experience: the sway of the reeds in the wind, the clicking of the leopard toads, the trickle of rainwater into the vlei, are all caught in the sonic web of the work. These tones and crackles of static resonate through specialised transducer speakers that cause the sculpture’s structure to vibrate with sound.

Its creator, James Webb, a pioneer of sound art is a conceptual artist, known for his site-specific interventions and installations. It is, however, his ingenious conception of the way in which sound permeates our world and thinking that defines Webb’s creativity. His work never simply revolves around the playback of sound files. Instead, there is always careful consideration of the physicality of context and media, whether this is the installation of large speakers, or almost invisible interventions in public spaces.

The artwork’s physical presence is a metal structure serving as a vibration plate for the sounds; an audial conduit for unseen astronomical activity. Obscured within the wetlands of the Norval Foundation, the artwork appears to be a lost piece of scientific apparatus.

“As Yet Untitled” also functions as a sonic pavilion from time to time and plays host to musicians, poets, philosophers, and performers who respond and work with the sounds, timings, and conceptual space occasioned by the artwork.