The Art of ‘Joining World’: Sol Del Rio From Inside the Matrix

Making a work of art is “to be able to collaborate with the thought of all humankind, to be able to gift others an instant of questioning, of phantasy, of thought”, affirmed Sol Del Río, the audiovisual artist who stands out for her multi-disciplinary art. The mysterious always attracted her, and for almost ten years she has been transmitting publicly this curiosity through paintings, live visuals performances, music, video-clips and murals. All these different kinds of works incite a reflection upon the enormous creative potential that our world has.

“Music is very powerful, very transforming, [it’s] magical.” Sentenced Sol, and clarified: “I could say the same about the visual.” Fortunately, magic has always surrounded her. Being it in the form of melodies portrayed by her mother on the piano, or through strange widgets manipulated by her father- a mechanical engineer- Sol, curiously replied to these stimuli by sprouting the idea that it is absurd to think in pre-digital terms and live digitally.

By the age of 10 she was painting realism with oil. At 15 she had fun as a guitarist for her first teenage band; at 19 she was already starting to experiment electronic music fusion mixing grunge, punk and metal, as the lead singer for Chayma, her second band.

After four years resonating her enigmatic voice, Sol became mute. During this silence the girl, who believes in cycles and observation, made a visual arts workshop with Patricio Larrambebere, and started to study Graphic Design at the University of Buenos Aires.

Her first solo show took place around 2008 in Mite Gallery, where she showed a series of watercolors named “The Eye of the Leopard”, in which the relationship between nature and technology already appeared as a central concept of her works. “[There is this] thing about ‘joining world’. This digital world is equal or the same than the real physical world. To me there are no limits. At one point technology is nature for me because it is created by man. Therefore if we created it, we made it evolve and all, in [a way] it is part of us. There is not one world and another one. I don’t like to see them as opposites, but I do like to see them as each one having different characteristics. So I like that in my work these categories are nurtured, are mixed”, she expressed.

Having rehearsed previously with animation and performance pieces in real time, Sol took “The Eye of the Leopard” to the screen at Fundación Telefónica. But as she still hadn’t produced digital rhythms, she needed the collaboration of Milo Schnitman and his audiovisual duo Lucas De Marziani. They taught her the first knowledge about vjing, making the fascination for mixed media contagious. It was already decided: Sol wanted to be an audio-visual artist.

Pablo Del Bosco –director of MUTEK Argentina- heard her enthusiasm and invited her to run for the next edition of the show in Canada. In this way, Del Rio debuted live, nothing more and nothing less than at the most important electronic music and digital creativity international festival. She presented “Monster Shine”, a six-track work mixing techno, EDM and house with black and white live visuals, inspired by the Ying Yang theory. This reasoning, that describes two opposite yet complementary forces that are present in everything, resembles the relationship between the organic and geometric elements in her work.

Just like she once stopped making music, plastic art had also had its idling moment. “The last painting I made in 2014 was the starting signal for everything that came after with the digital operation, because it was already very obvious a geometrical shift” she said. And added: “[At that moment] I realized that what I wanted to talk about had to do with [the] inside of that digital universe”.

With that goal as a guide she elaborated the clip “Without Thinking”, a real universe of images formed by screenshots of the same programs she uses to produce music- “There [emerges] my first interest for being able to put my body inside the work. There is a landscape that appears, and then I get in it to evidence that this is a habitable landscape” she said with certainty, accounting for the fact that the digital world is not just an instrument but a dimension of our world. It is about two sides of the same coin, which are permanently mutating and getting feedback from each other, blurring its frontiers. Even though the Olivos-born artist assures to be reunited with painting as a subject (more tangible than the digital processing), as she edits she feels as though she was painting. In this way, she reflects not only on the new sensitivity that the digital world imprints over the image, but also on how humankind understood itself and how human and living things could also understand themselves through this new universe, whilst being at the same time an unlimited field for the creative impulse of the future.

There is a need for an unprecedented language to talk about something new, and the multifaceted artist knew how to find it by carrying the mixed-media flag. Until 2015 she hadn’t thought about editing her own music with an album-like concept. This ambition came forward while she was searching for her own sound, more song-oriented. After a year of rehearsing new voice shades- where the influence of Björk, Pfadfinderei and Massive Attack was overwhelmed by elements of her own personal experimentation- the singer launched “Resonance”, her first album. The work, edited by the Argentinian label Concepto Cero, is composed by eight tracks of experimental music, which combine elements of bass, house, minimal, techno and EDM with broken and downtempo rhythms. The tracks are numbered in their order of creation, allowing a glimpse through the ripening of her sounds. Her melodies are processed over and over again by means of synthesizers, compressors, equalizers and all kinds of digital filters, which provide an outer-space texture.

In our current experience, anything can be translated into endlessly compressed and decompressed information. In effect, the ordinary space-time conception has entered a crisis. Sol develops more and more this problematic: she captures her raw material from reality, corresponding to recordings of her own voice as well as analogue instruments and ambient sounds. Through reverberations, overlappings, repetitions and distortions generated by computer, she converts these into something rhythmical, inviting their reflection and contemplation as well as inciting physical movements.

Resonance, the word that baptizes her record, was extracted from a [Spanish translation of a] Goethe quote present in the book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” by Kandinsky: “Musical sound acts directly on the soul and finds an echo there because, though to varying extents, music is innate in man.” The artist explains that both technically and spiritually this concept synthesizes what she herself was doing by producing. “It is basically feeling that I had the music within myself. Because I don’t believe in this [sort of] academic, for neither artistic expression. I think it goes about in a different way, it’s about the essential. Resonance as in ´What happens when one takes something from the inside out?´ And, ´What does the outside give back in return?´ I mean, ´What influences one from the outside and what goes through?´ And because [of that], something new comes out [of it].” The artist asserted this by accounting for the fact that movement is an extremely important factor in her art, not only visually but also conceptually.

Sol understands the idea of resonance even in terms of retro-alimentation, echoing and transformation; something that is reinforced also in her visual development, where she mixtures video, animation painting and collage creating an array of hybrid visual products, as organic as geometrical. “These are [worlds] that are apparently contrary but live together, and I think right there lies something I am much interested in. (…) I can create a very similar image to something that in reality emerges from the natural world. [Maybe] I get inspired by a shape, by something morphological that came out of a computer, but in reality the result can be from there or not. In short, it’s very much alike the physical world than the digital one”, she clarified. In this way, the multi-media artist exemplifies again how the limits between the natural and the artificial are blurred, as long as objects generated by both dimensions of the world- apart from being analogue- constitute our environment and surroundings and are, in every case, regimes of sensible experimentation.

Sol thinks for a while before answering what inspires her. “I think that there are certain observations that one has. Anything could be inspiring: a certain climatic condition, a certain personal thing with someone, the work of a friend, a fellow artist. I don’t know if we are so much in control or conscious about what inspires us” she asserted. Truth is that curiosity before the unknown always worked as a muse for her. Her source of inspiration could be anything touching enough- due to its mystery or its beauty- that manages to attract her and make her stop to observe. “I love everything about the science world, physics; I don’t understand anything but I am very intrigued and I like a lot its visual universe”, she summoned.

Right in the middle of a stormy night in 2014, a lightning storm- as shiny as the beams that detonated in her childhood, when she curiously touched the crystal of a plasma ball belonging to her father- incited her to record the luminous-sonic natural show displayed over her apartment window. Sometime after, those fragments became “Luminar”, another of her referential works. “If you watch [the raw version] it’s all a geometry of colors, [which became] something else totally different, but the raw material was actually the observation of all that. And it was like, Wow! How nice! And that I put into the computer and I had fun for a while”, she claimed. “It is like [by getting into that interface] you would get into the matrix, inside the inside, here underneath the earth, or we would go to outer space!”, she explained. There is no doubt she works with the digital interface. However, only this last August “Luminar” took the form of an EP under the same label with which she produced “Resonancia”. Until then, it only consisted of a series of visual loops that she used live, but that nonetheless didn’t have any anchorage as a work of art by itself.

Among her multiple facets, teaching is included. After being an outstanding student, she was a University professor for six years, and along with artist Ana Montecucco she offered a mixed-media workshop for four years at Galeria Patio del Liceo, which she went on doing afterwards by herself. “My strength doesn’t rely on the programs, but on though, in this connection with the essence, with the essential than the person wants to develop” the teacher suggested, being a bit uncomfortable with this term. After all, for her, the student is also a teacher and learning is reciprocal.

Currently, Sol came back to painting “big style”, meddling in the muralists’ world hand in hand with her partner Sam el Greco, an artist with vast experience in this field. Together they just travelled to Mexico to produce an intervention at a house, among other projects. “What we really want to do is to take over the space” she declared. The muralist technique implies- for the artist- not only a change in scale but also dynamism that, due to the exhausting physical strength conditions and the possibilities of weather shifts, it has to be fast paced.

Her most recent production included a show in DooplerStudio, an audiovisual production studio located in Recoleta neighbourhood, curated by Rosario Villani and produced by ETHER Arts Project, which can be visited until January 16th, 2018. Moreover, she participated in FAIAUT Urban Arts Festival in Mexico, and did a successful presentation which sold out for MUTEK’s last edition in Federal District. This demonstrated she can still translate to us to a sound-visual landscape the relationship between the interface in a bidimensional ecosystem so unique and geometrically alive as her art: the art of ‘joining world´.


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