Country:   South_Africa
URL:   http://www.theotherjameswebb.com
9 nodes
James Webb is a pioneer of sound art in South Africa. But his production extends far beyond that of gallery installations. Webb also works as a sound designer, curator and teacher. A keen collaborator, Webb is always involved in a number of projects where his expertise on sound as well as project coordination is invaluable. Highlights of his career include the co-curation of the YDETAG and YDEsire events, participation in the 2002 Ars Electronica festival, his collaboration with James Sey for 'A Compendium of Imaginary Wavelengths', and his two-part solo exhibition 'Phonosynthesizer' at the US gallery in Stellenbosch and the NSA in Durban. His sense of pop and eroticism characterise many of his works, especially in two of my favourites, thesexworks, a telephone artwork, and Wa, an elaborate spoof on our celebrity-mad pop culture and our romance with all things Japanese. It is, however, his ingenious conception of the way in which sound permeates our world and thinking that defines Webb's magical oeuvre. 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. Process is further of prime importance for this artist, as his manner of sourcing sound is invariably already part of the way in which meaning is generated through his work. MODUS OPERANDI Webb's process has at least three stages. The first takes place mentally. He is an astute observer of the tangents within culture, whether of large political strifes or private conflicts. Through these observations, Webb is able to discern patterns. He then conceives of possible ways in which this pattern can find physical manifestation as artwork. Here, the idea is born. The second part of his process involves extensive collection of material. By making use of contact microphones, picking up the hum of urban bustle through the window of his Cape Town flat for instance, Webb is tuning in to the sound of his environment. Sometimes the process involves a conscious journey of collecting, as for example, when he sourced the material for his multi-channel installation Prayer, and visited various places of worship. These sounds are then captured on his home PC, and the alchemy of ordering the mundane into the significant begins. While most would be happy to have this idea, this pattern, exist as an object, or in this case, a soundtrack, Webb then enters into the third stage of his process. Finding the right mode of exhibition involves everything from choosing the correct kind of speaker for sound quality (or lack thereof) as well as aesthetic appearance, to ensuring that the diameter of the speaker cables and the way they are arranged contribute to the meaning of the work. In its execution, Webb's process often reminds me of drawing. The structure is integral: the details form a purposeful map of his idea. In this structure, it is both the minute relationships between single aspects, as well as the overall pattern that count. One only has to regard 'Phonosynthesizer', or Prayer, or even Next to You I am Nothing to appreciate the way in which all three stages of his process find culmination in the exhibition. ARTIST'S STATEMENT 'I seem to have two ways of working. The first, and most active way is to use art as the extension of my will. In these situations, I fashion works that are the manifestations of my feelings and desires. I seek to create in a divine sense, and breathe life into events, situations and possibilities. This is where I think first and my actions are the realisation of that thinking. Art becomes the science and magick of causing change to occur in conformity with will. 'The second way I have noticed I work is to be more passive. Here I design situations that play themselves out with my limited set of rules and selected intervention so that the audience/listener/public will work with that situation and thus create the artwork. They become participants and so do I. This is where I act first and my thinking is the realisation of those actions. Listening and doing nothing as creative artistic acts perhaps best describes this second method of working.' James Webb, 2004. Accessed 13.01.2009 from http://www.artthrob.co.za/04aug/artbio.html
24 Selected Statements
      Worktype Info Year Country Admin
10 Steps To Heaven - 2001 South Africa Edit
thesexworks telephonic sound installation 2001 South Africa Edit
Know Thy Worth Sculpture 2001 South Africa Edit
Prayer Sound Installation 2002 South Africa Edit
ABSA Atelier Awards Exhibition - ABSA Gallery, 2002 South Africa Edit
Piglet Soundwork 2003 South Africa Edit
Wa performance 2003 South Africa Edit
YDEsire Curated Exhibition The Castle of Good Hope 2003 South Africa Edit
Space Repurposed Exhibition Red Bull Music Academy 2003 South Africa Edit
Chamber Music sound installation 2003 South Africa Edit
The Most Romantic of Names Sound Installation 2004 South Africa Edit
A Decade of Democracy Exhibition The South African National Gallery. 2004 South Africa Edit
Phonosynthesizer 100603 - NSA Gallery, 2004 South Africa Edit
Music for Mooi Mark - 2004 South Africa Edit
Found Sound Space 01 - Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2004 South Africa Edit
Antigone Sound for Theatre 2004 South Africa Edit
There are far too few Friday nights left in the world DVD-based Sound installation 2004 South Africa Edit
Love Thyself Sculpture 2004 South Africa Edit
There's no place called home Outdoor Sound Installation 2005 Edit
The Black Passage Sound Installation 2007 Edit
Autohagiography Sound Sculpture 2007 Edit
September 1st Event 2007 Edit
LE MARCHÉ ORIENTAL Intervention 2008 Edit
Scream Sound Action 2008 Spain Edit