Neil Webb presents an immersive sonic environment that draws influence from Brandon LaBelle’s Perspectives On Sound Art, as well as sonic artists William Basinski, Brian Eno and Thomas Köner.
The exhibition features a number of monoliths attached to the gallery walls, referencing the mysterious alien intelligence encountered in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, a Monolith transmits messages throughout deep space, communicating to different elements of itself. When astronaut Dave Bowman encounters the Monolith, his final transmission before entering the stargate is, “My God, it’s full of stars.” Bowman is eventually transformed by the intelligence into a timeless existence and born again as the ‘star child’. He later becomes a messenger between the Monolith and the human race.
Each component of the exhibition doubles as a source of unearthly sounds, using NXT surface-exciting speaker technology that allows objects to be transformed into speakers. A mixture of virtual classical instruments, Mellotron and field recordings of choirs, transmission signals and signal tones are emitted through multiple channels into the space, whilst a bench in the gallery also produces a low vibration, functioning as a sub- woofer. The use of this technology allows every element of the work, as well as the fabric of the gallery itself, to be connected through sound vibration. The glossy black surfaces of the monoliths themselves invite quiet, inward reflection, completing the work’s all-encompassing ambience.
A further influence cited by Webb is the theory of Quantum Holography, as championed by Apollo astronaut Ed Mitchell. The concept considers that the information of the whole exists in every constitutional part; that a tiny particle might contain all the information pertaining to everything that exists or has ever existed. Through his use of hypnotic sounds and minimal aesthetics the artist encourages the audience to transform into ‘star children’ themselves, and to connect with the universe beyond.
Neil Webb was recently interviewed by Dan Sumption on his Sheffield Live radio show Empty Space. Click here to hear the interview.
The show is sponsored by Autoways
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