Notebook, a term composed of two words and separated in this particular way, is how Sylvia Molina has used them in the title of this exhibition: note|Book meaning a book of written and musical notes. We are aware of the importance of music in Sylvia Molina’s work: music considered a language for encoding/translating artistic experience. Thus the caesura between the two words of the title is marking a separation, a way of inhabiting both the territory of music and that of the written word. Deleuze would call this a disjunctive synthesis. The interstices, clefts, the inbetween are important in Sylvia Molina’s work. Rare species thrive in the cracks and spaces. I always think of her works as chasmophytes, plants that sprout from the crevices and make them their habitat.
The rendition in Sylvia’s work is not a tool.It is the substance of her work. It does not translate the tongues but the languages: words and music, as mentioned but also the plastic expression. In fact, we talk of the written word, irrespective of the language specified: the texts of Diálogos Inesperados, the torn writing of Kintsugi, the score of 40 Ark. We speak of intertwining signs and symbols where the sense and meaning of things would be considered the translation in this interweave of languages.
But, what prompts the artist to produce these inscriptions in their multiple formats? This is where the Sylvia Molina teacher, the Sylvia biographer (for the moment not imitating any artifical intelligence), takes on the role, the spider weaving together all these severed threads in danger of hanging loose. Sylvia, Ariadne, stitches and weaves like Ada Lovelace on the imaginary loom of her analytical machine.
However, this script is not only transdiciplinary. It is also transmedia storytelling. Writing on a page is not the same as writing on a screen or on a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). The word “page” derives from the Latin pagina which, in its turn, is linked to the pagus, a Roman geographic or territorial unit and the verb pangere meaning to plant, or insert a milestone in the earth. A page is written on and it is a terrain susceptible to inscription. Paint and die-stamp. It is about structuring the space, this space that is not merely the page but also the space of script and thought and of art. What is the topology of this space? Beyond the lines or the verses Sylvia’s spaces end up composing a network, a rhizome or a fabric. Donna Haraway and Sadie Plant defend the importance of the fabric as a genuinely femine element. And Sylvia follows in the footsteps of these renowned weavers. The itineraries through Stockholm are transformed in 40 ark, a tapestry on paper which is then transformed into music (background sounds and the musicians who worked with the artist). Footseps through a city that become musical notes. A stroll that transforms into a melody. Like all good metaphors, a hidden truth is revealed.
Any translation needs a translator, and an interface, an interface that connects the analogic (paint, thread) and translates them into digital.zeros and ones. Black and white. We speak of Bitmap but also of Kintsugi. Binarism is used here not as a computational tool but as an artistic expression, as essential symbology that refers to the opposites of Heraclitus or the Taoist yin/yang.
We have already mentioned that Sylvia’s work follows the topological model of a fabric, of a tapestry. Thus space is more important than time. In Diálogos inesperados, there is an intertwining of times, a glimpse of the disciplines. Sylvia has created an Aleph, a circle of Paradise, a dolls’ house inhabited by the men and women she admires (Warburg, Bohm, Benjamin, Heisenberg, Deleuze, Gould, Asins) and who converse, a genealogy declared by the artist, all keys that help us to understand her particular vision of science, culture and thought. Simultaneously, time becomes a mere anecdote as we can see in one of the texts in the artist’s book.
Qué hora es/
qué pregunta más absurda/
[What time is it/
What an absurd question/
The text is a tapestry as is memory. A fabric on which we weave our weft while we resemble it, just as the mollusc simultaneously both generates and carries its shell. It is a memory linked to the narrative while returning to its condition of object/space in Papel líquido or in Cartas de amor. The objects (ash and paper), bestowed with a sense of pregnancy, refer us to a tale that distances them from the utilitarism of their manufacture. The artist’s alchemy (certainly a true Benjaminian) that consists of taking a residue and endowing it with an aura.
Sylvia Molina does not present monolithic proposals that seek success by repeating the same, more or less adequate, formula. Sylvia explores, she searches for new avenues. She discovers fragments to be remade and she stitches them into the fabric where we discover the essence of her work. When all is said and done, as one of her personages in Diálogos inesperados says “The fragment unites us all, Warburg, perhaps this might be a good moment for us all to define our Space”.
My final recommendation is simply to come and see (or hear and read).
Note|Book desde notebooks
I’m walking by the Sickla Kanal. I’ve been in Stockholm a few weeks now. Always with some kind of recording apparatus on hand. I have been trying out different microphones. Even my mobile phone. All senses are alert, especially my hearing. A duck, the creaking footbridge or the splash of water from the ferryboats. A world of sound so different to my daily life in Spain.
The ’40 ark|40 days’ is taking shape. I am still sewing my daily journey into the black notebook. I walk every day by the Sickla Kanal and these walks have a rhythm to them that makes me think of basting fabric together. When I take the ferry, the tram or the T-bana I am always sewing – backstitching I believe it is called. A pretty name for this form of sewing. On the other side of the paper there is a double line of stitches. This intrigues me and often absorbs me.
Time expands when one is away and sound increases around me in the EMS (Electronmusikstudion) . A palimpsest of sounds and stories constructed simultaneously among the threads, the scripts, the recorded sounds and the interactive ink that serves as the interface for managing all this in Studio 2 of EMS; a multichannel studio with sixteen 360º (Ambisonic) speakers. Everything flows like the water through the canals.
And it was there, by the canal, that I realised that the notebooks had always been a part of me. Since I was a child. Always drawing. There also time came to a standstill. I pondered a while on recent moments. I realised how sound and image converse; how image and script converse but sound and script do not. Images like the‘Kintsugi’ project and its sound partner ‘Sounded Notebook’. Bitmap and its relation to the pencilled words of Y.S. Bacha. The ‘Diálogos Inesperados’ between script and Indian ink and of course, ‘cartas de amor’. My parents’ love letters, burnt and scattered along their walks that I later collected and treasured. Yes, paper has always been with me since I was a child. Even when I was criticising environmental politics in ‘Papel líquido’. All of this is connected to notebooks, to the notebook and the sound.
I don’t hesitate. Grab my phone and send a WhatsApp voice message to Isabel Hurley: “I’ve done it, I’m sending you the exhibition. It will be called note|Book. Call me”
This is an experience of walking through the city and’ of encounters with personages. Thus composers of stature of Ricardo Atienza (Gamla Stan), Paul Pignon (Bus), Concepción Huerta Ttram), Jeph Vanger (T-Bana) and Raúl Villamil (EMS) become part of the project.
A curiosity, but not a coincidence in which I do not believe, sewing, in Swedish, is written “sy”.
The’40ark|40 days project was born during my investigation at the EMS in Stockholm, thanks to a grant awarded by the University of Castilla-LaMancha (UCLM) from April to May of 2022.