The work of Australian sound artist Thembi Soddell resides in a zone of unrelenting darkness and the physicality of affect. Working on the nexus of musique concrète, raw emotion, and sound design, they create dense and abyss-like sound worlds. Known for their powerful acousmatic performances in darkness, their compositions exploit the dynamic extremes, toying with a listener’s sense of expectation and unease. These reflect their longstanding interests in psychology, perception, subjectivity, and emotion in relation to intense encounters with sound.
Soddell’s work has been shown in galleries and festivals worldwide, including MONA FOMA (2018), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2016), Wellington City Gallery (2013), Totally Huge New Music Festival (2009), SFMOMA (2002), and Liquid Architecture (2001). They have released five albums, and thrice toured Europe. Soddell has guest curated for the National Gallery of Victoria, and worked as sound designer and dramaturg for choreographer, Tim Darbyshire.
Titled, “A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound”, Soddell’s recent PhD research has investigated the use sound art practice in understanding lived experiences of mental illness. Their work has been described as “extremely accomplished” (Diffusion 2005), and inducing of “psychological terror” (Real Time Arts 2011).
Thembi is the 2019 Orange House by the Sea Artist Residency recipient, along with Onyx B Carmine.