NULLA 0, A MONOLITH by Lola de la Mata
150 x 250mm, 64 pages, full colour printing, saddle stitched with thermographic detail on cover, 2021
NULLA 0, a monolith is a sound art project developed through conversations with 9 participants on their English speaking voices who identify across non-binary, womxn and women (cis/trans), and were either born in London or moved to the city for a duration of time.
The project is about agency- amplifying voices that are often othered while sharing narratives which have typically been omitted from our collective histories. Together, we challenge the word ‘neutral’ - a term regularly associated with whiteness, middle class and binary voices, casually employed to flatly describe the voices of AI personal assistants who maintain their coded interactions in a master/slave role play.
Initially meant as a series of in-person group workshops, the pandemic changed the landscape of the project by shifting our discussions onto a digital platform. Here, we met as two strangers launching into an incredibly intimate and vulnerable subject - the voice. The rawness of these exchanges however, are full of laughter and openness, full of individuality and considered thought.
These 1:1 conversations focused on how the participants experienced their own voices intersecting with gender, race and class, while equally considering the disembodied voice as a sonic mask, one that rewrites the inner voice as an alternate persona in the mind of the one who hears it. Following the first exchange, we met once more, this time collectively and anonymously with just our voices to define us to questioned the notion of a ‘common voice’, and attempted to write a manifesto which could hold and celebrate our difference.
As it evolved NULLA 0, a monolith became a rich collaborative oral archive which resulted in a publication - a record and artefact of our otherwise ephemeral assembly, accompanied by a sonic composition from our conversations, fusing narratives and highlighting ‘bad’ sounds in the audio such as pops, clicks, reverb, hiss and silence.
The composition is diffused amongst photographic textile pieces inspired by mouths, tubes, saliva and skin alongside the publication. Commanding our attention in the centre of the space is a oversized C-mouth shaper, a sculptural work made in collaboration with artist Grace Woodcock, summoning soft and wet inner mouth forms and vocal cords, explicitly brought into our dimension using suedette, silicone, bolts, foam padding and perspex. Alongside this giant are three smaller works. One with biomorphic blown glass spheres held within an a cushioned table shaped like an open mouth is reminiscent of the scene in My Fair Lady where Professor Higgins forces elocution lessons on Eliza Doolittle (Eliza also being the given name of a MIT computer intelligence in the 60s after the same play, Pygmalion) by placing marbles in her mouth - essentially gagging her and preventing her from sounding like herself. The second is more abstractly a blown glass object inspired by a trachea and the third, a table for the publication surrounded by macro skin and held up by a Uvula.
Adèle Morand / Geaola Oluwakemi Adeyemi / Sven Ironside / Jasmin Kent Rodgman / Ruari Paterson-Achenbach / Kendall Perry / Shannon Latoyah / Joanna M Ward / Hannah Doucet
Project collaborators: Publication - Samantha Whetton, Design. Print. Bind.; Preface - Lola Olufemi; Sculpture Design - Grace Woodcock in collaboration with Lola de la Mata; Sculpture Maker - Grace Woodcock; Glass Design - Lola de la Mata; Glass Blowing - Marcin Czepiga