Barbara Held / Benton C Bainbridge: Observatory / Lisa Joy X (installation view)

Barbara Held / Benton C Bainbridge: Observatory / Lisa Joy, 2013-2019
in El giro notacional
at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León
Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses, 24
24008 León, Spain
January 26 – September 15, 2019

These are the last weeks to catch Observatory / Lisa Joy in the show “El giro notacional (The Notational Turn)”, curated by José Iges and Manuel Olveira at MUSAC (Museum de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León).

Observatory / Lisa Joy W is a media installation artwork, an interface that transforms one energy system into another. Observatory, a sonification of helioseismological measurements, translates numeric data into another natural numeric structure: the overtone series of a sampled flute note, filtered and reinforced in the rhythm of the sound waves produced by solar oscillations. Like an oscillation between a microscope and a telescope, Held varies the intensity of harmonics (the building blocks of sound) to highlight the rich deep abstraction of pure tone and the immediacy of the breath, while Bainbridge’s system divides the sound into component frequencies that are visualized onto the display, creating calligraphic patterns from the same electronic signals.

Bainbridge’s Lisa Joy generates electronic drawings with an analog video synthesizer and a modified video game console. He assembled a set of unique Eurorack modules into a custom system to create electronic calligraphy. Lissajous patterns emerge from the relationship of 3 signals which guide the electron gun from left to right, top to bottom, and up and down in brightness. The shapes vary as the 3 waves dance in relationship to each other and the sound frequencies.

Observatory was first created in 2013 for “Bioderivas” at Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre, Tenerife, and was presented by Contour Editions at Eyebeam in New York City. Observatory / Lisa Joy was shown as part of “Escuchar con los ojos: Arte sonoro en España, 1961-2016”, a group exhibition of Spanish Sound Art from the past half century at the Juan March Foundation in Madrid in 2017.


Francesc Abad, Ignasi Aballí, José Luis Alexanco, Alain Arias-Misson, Armadanzas (Paz Brozas and Víctor Martínez), Elena Asins, Manuel Barbadillo, Llorenç Barber, Cristina Barroso, Ricardo Bellés / José Iges, Cathy Berberian, Josep Lluis Berenguer, José Manuel Berenguer, Denys Blacker, Jaap Blonk, Peter Bosch / Simone Simons, John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Jose Luis Castillejo, Merce Cunningham, Darío Corbeira, Analivia Cordeiro, Philip Corner, Carlos Cruz De Castro, Maria Escribano, Pelayo Fernández Arrizabalaga, Esther Ferrer, Giovanni Fontana, Yolande Harris, Terry Fox, Laura Gibellini, Yolande Harris, Barbara Held / Benton C Bainbridge, Joel Hubaut, Shell Jerez, Tom Johnson, Manuel Jular, Mauricio Kagel, Nader Koochaki, Elena Lavellés, Le Corbusier, Lugan , José Maldonado, Walter Marchetti, Abel Martín, Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny, Julie Mehretu, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Luis De Pablo, Tatiana Parcero, George Perec, Ximena Perez Grobet, Miguel Angel Rego, Inken Reinert, La Ribot, Alyce Santoro, Eusebio Sempere, Alvaro Terrones, Valcárcel Medina, Jesús Villa Rojo, Christian Wolff, Iannis Xenakis, Zaj

Curated by: José Iges and Manuel Olveira
Coordination: Helena López Camacho

We understand notation as a system of conventional signs adopted to express mathematical, physical, chemical, musical concepts, et cetera. If from this definition we lose the word “conventional”, the way of understanding notation expands beyond formal languages to artistic territories where everything can be unstable, fragile and open, to make every communicative system open and to suit the vision of the creator.

From this perspective, the exhibition “The Notational Turn” supposes an extension, if not directly a transgression on the part of the participating artists, of the concept of notation and its traditional functions. The objective of the exhibition is to show a series of creative practices related to notational systems that allow coding to “write”, represent and indicate languages ​​that translate reality, translate languages ​​among themselves or be decoded and interpreted. They are, then, “tools” to represent, translate and code territories of all kinds: physical, geographical, mental, emotional, social, conceptual, linguistic, etc. that are articulated as modes of representation and expression of sounds, movements, spaces … but with a twist that moves them away from mere conventional notation.

Notation, then, is no longer just the representation of a mental process or ideas, but it is a project in itself that conditions, among other things, the way of thinking. To account for the complexity of the creative use of notation, the exhibition is organized around five generic themes: the notations related to music and sound, kinetic notations of movement, cartographic and spatial notations, notations of calculation and science and, finally, notations of thought.


Barbara Held / Benton C Bainbridge: Observatory / Lisa Joy was previously exhibited
in “Escuchar con los ojos” at Fundación Juan March, Madrid.
October 14, 2016 – January 15, 2017

and at Juan Naranjo Gallery, Barcelona, in June, 2018

Documentary: “Escuchar con los ojos” including Held / Bainbridge showing Observatory / Lisa Joy || Press: Periodista | Guia del Ocio | El País