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Blog: James Webb and the visual soundscape

30/08/2012
James Webb by S:P:S
James Webb, a photo by S:P:S on Flickr.

It isn’t often that an audience in South Africa gets treated to a well thought out soundscape experience where we are required to sit still in an auditorium, with blindfolds, and create our own little cinema in our minds listening to a James Webb creation.

I like James. I think he has a certain knack for putting things together; they have depth, and more often than not a well researched historical relevance.

This particular piece was called Telepylos – what he describes as “an immersive, cinematic audio composition designed to activate lucid dreaming and stimulate visionary projection.” The idea came after he was instructed by Orson Welles…yes, the dead guy, to “try film” after he contacted the media producer (famously the radio remake of War of the Worlds) through a psychic, or in this case a medium.

So, in Webb style, he created a film in our minds through sound. Quite lovely actually.

The piece involved all kinds of sounds, some of them explosive, others a mellow drone, sometimes surprising and even sometimes you thought that you needed a jolt to get you back in the groove. For someone that places sounds of jackals on rooftops of buildings in the city to get some sort of perceptual twist into people’s lives, well, I wouldn’t expect anything expected.

Webb says, “It is kind of like a photographic negative of what I normally do.”
“Sound becomes the raw material…this displaced sound…it is sculptural”

It is exploring sound as an image – and before you say bullshit – it worked. With my own interest in synesthesia and what is considered the mixing of the senses, this came about as close as you could get without actually having synesthesia.

[The pic is the best I could do with only his laptop glow and no tripod…but I think it fits]

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