A startling, even hallucinatory, intensity.David Eaggleton, New Zealand Listener
Image description: A Soundcloud player with an audio waveform over a photograph of a small black painted, wooden structure a bit taller than waist height, with black fabric over the front centre. It is inside a gallery space with wooden floors. A large window is behind it that looks out onto a city street from a second story. There is a play button in the top left hand corner with the words “Thembi Soddell: Window (stereomix) (2008)” written beside it. The track length reads “7:37”
“At first I wondered why the room felt so safe. Then I realized it was because there were no windows”
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Window is a small, black, nondescript box that the audience must enter to experience. Pulling aside a curtain on one side of the box, one person at a time sits in its centre (in so much as they can fit), pulling the curtain back down so their head and body is enclosed in the pitch-black space. Sound becomes their only point of reference, filling the space from 10 hidden speakers (and 2 subwoofers) placed at varying heights and distances within the box, in a unique configuration for sound spatialisation. The listener becomes immersed in a sonic world that shifts from the real to the imagined via fragments of field recordings, electronics and abstracted sounds. This sonically sculpted space ranges in intensity, from dense washes of noise to sounds on the threshold of perception, mimicking the manifestation of memory and emotion.
Window was first commissioned by Ben Byrne for Tracts, an exhibition for Next Wave Festival 2008 at Blindside Gallery, Melbourne, Australia. It was subsequently exhibited in Sound Full: Sound in Contemporary Australian and New Zealand Art, curated by Caleb Kelly and Aaron Kreisler, exhibted at Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2012) and City Gallery Wellington (2013).