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Os sons de James Webb

Publicado18 Nov 2014

James Webb, nascido em 1975, em Kimberley, tem formação em Teatro, Religião Comparada e Publicidade, e assina instalações sonoras em vários trabalhos, numa linguagem multimedia que vai além do som. Numa entrevista ao site Another Africa, onde se pode ouvir a sua recriação da canção de protesto de T. Rex "The Children of the Revolution", fala do seu percurso e da sua obra.

How do you think your studies have influenced your artistic practice?

Theatre, Comparative Religion and Advertising might sum up my strategies too neatly, and although they don’t directly relate to Contemporary Art and experimental music, they have affected my work greatly, and continue to do so.

I like that in Theatre there is talk of the “company,” which includes everyone from the director to the lighting operators. This view of a group of people involved in a project together makes a lot of sense to me, especially as it challenges the hierarchical notion of the artist as a hermetic genius.

Comparative Religion probes our differences as well as our similarities. It shows the presence of belief in all the things we do: from simple superstition to the way we regard each other in terms of our private politics and views on an afterlife. Our world history is very much linked to religion. It’s found in our schedules, fashion sensibilities, jurisprudence, and diets. Whether we like it or not, humans are meaning seeking creatures, and religion and spirituality have played vital roles in the way the world is today.

Advertising is about other people, and communicating particular messages. It is also a highly polished financial machine capable of stretching all over the globe and influencing us in many different, positive and negative ways. It should be scrutinised extensively.

Are you drawn to sounds just for their own aesthetic qualities first or are you also listening to them as, say, a political or social texture?

In terms of sounds, I am very interested in what they could represent, and how those meanings change with context and presentation. Aesthetics play a strong part, alongside my interest in the “conceptual” and “social” interpretations that can be generated. There is always an emphasis on the political, poetic and social readings of sounds in my work, but also an invitation for the audience to personalise the pieces in some way. My ongoing, worldwide intervention, There’s No Place Called Home (2004, ongoing), is a good example of this. Here I conceal audio speakers in trees and broadcast the songs of birds that would never be found in that area, e.g. non-migratory Canadian birds in trees in Reims, France (There’s No Place Called Home (Domaine Pommery), 2011). Aside from anthropomorphic ideas of avian musicality, bird vocalizations are generally used to mark territory and attract mates. The introduction of new, geographically unique birdsong into a site generates a multitude of readings pertaining to human and animal migration, ecological contingency, territory marking, communication streams and folkloric magic. And it normally sounds very beautiful too…

Em The Sound of James Webb