14.2 channel single person sound installation in pitch-black
"The idea of surfaces disappeared and I existed somewhere in a mist of vibrations. They were comforting, surrounding, my weight existed within it. Something in the back of my thoughts was changing and shifting, healing a little, being arranged into a shape that made more sense, that could be understood and integrated."  - Audience Member
Held Down, Expanding is an experiential artwork that takes audience members through three stages - reading, listening and written reflection - one person at a time. Beginning in a waiting area, the audience member is instructed to read a small, black book of concrete poetry, which addresses the impact of insidious abuse within intimate relationships and its connection to symptoms of anxiety, depression and mental illness. Once complete, they are guided by the work’s operator into a large, black structure and seated within a central chair. The operator enters the structure, latching the door behind them so only a small amount of red light remains. For the audience member, the light becomes so minimal they are barely able to perceive the environment they are within. The operator then raises the audience member's chair, reclines them, and pulls them back into position between two central speakers - the audience member in a state of complete submission. The operator switches out the light so the space becomes pitch-black and the sound begins. With nothing to orient them, the audience member becomes lost in an expanding and contracting sound field of perceptual ambiguity, a meditative space and mirror into their own perceptions, emotions and mind.
Once the listening session is complete, audience members are invited to reflect upon their experience and read the reflections of others who have experienced the work before them.
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Held Down, Expanding was first presented at MONA FOMA 2018 in Tasmania, followed by showings at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne (pictured) as part of Liquid Architecture's Polyphonic Social program, and at Red Door Gallery as part of Clunes' Booktown Festival, presented in partnership with Liquid Architecture and Creative Clunes.

An interview about Held Down, Expanding can be found here.

Full Credits: 
Concept, direction, speaker arrangment, spatialisation, sound composition and lighting: Thembi Soddell
Industrial design: Stuart McFarlane
Sound includes samples from Alice Hui-Sheng Chang and Jim Denley

Thank you:
Liquid Architecture, Creative Victoria, Brian Ritchie, Shelley McCuaig, The SUBSTATION, Brad Spolding, Joel Stern, Danni Zuvela, Georgia Hutchinson, Debris Facility, Robin Fox, Byron J Scullin, Jeffery Hannam, Vanessa Godden, Creative Clunes, Richard MacKay-Scollay, Clunes Neighbourhood House and the crew of volunteers in Melbourne and Clunes - Yonke van Geloven, Rebecca H Russell, Sharalyn Rozanski, Esther Grant, Tessa Ambrose, Dave Budge, Stephen Samuel, Jordan Rozanski, Lorna Fitzpatrick, Richard Manning, Rosina Dulloo, Steve Ambrose, Phil Burnie, Mick Sacco, Brittany Wyper, Elena Betros, Darcy Wedd, Jason Hood, Kelvin Lau, Tim Coster, Jessica Pinney, Mikhail Rogachevsky, Thomas Harman, Zac Cooper and Marcel Feillafe.