Synaesthetic Syntax – Before the Sixth Sun: A codex for our children

To showcase the forces of coloniality and the decolonial aestheSis (Walter Mignolo), or the processes of thinking and doing, of sensing and existing beyond the impositions and absurdity of coloniality, I am preparing a children’s book with audio, tactile, and AR components that will tell the story of invasion, injustices, and issues of American Indigenous land stewardship through the perspective of native and settler plants. The book produced in fabric, crochet, and embroidery using cotton, wool, burlap, acrylic, and silk is titled, Before the Sixth Sun: A Codex for Children. This piece of hyper design mixes folk with technology exposing the artisan’s hand as a counter-story to mass production and capitalism in the uniqueness of presence, making the moment and the event more valuable than the object, and bringing materiality back to its connection to ritual and meaning. This work in progress is scheduled to be part of the Mexicali Biennial exhibition The Land of Milk and Honey opening at the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in late January 2023 and will be included in the U.S. Library of Congress Mexicali Biennial archive and catalog.

As is with textile tradition and transfronteriza knowledge production, this creates an opportunity for a non-linear morphing genealogy of presentations of fragmentary versions of this piece, because the way the piece is exhibited will continue to change as it is embroidered and being completed (always in a non-linear way). Furthermore, the textile on burlap represents the bounty of Indigenous and femenine forms of data storage and storytelling, alluding to the presence of “hidden” elements found in the augmented reality portion. Here, direct and unfiltered decolonial roots are not shared “underground” but through an invisible wireless technology around everyone. The digital element makes it possible to universalize the function of Chicano and Indigenous pedagogies of the home (Delgado Bernal 2001) as futuristic, “the communication, practices and learning that occur in the home and community…and serve as a cultural knowledge base that helps Chicanas… negotiate the daily experiences of sexist, racist, and classist microaggressions” (p. 624) This represents the overlapping versions of history I received while I was a child at home, recreating the dissonance I experienced as a Kumeyaay descendant while receiving the legitimized version at school while dressed as a pilgrim and singing about giving thanks. Artisan textile AR animation recreates the sensing of the embodied POC experience in receiving overlapping oral histories in constant movement and the dissonance from receiving a static legitimized version of history. A written part will be presented under each textile page, as well as an audio component, and a tactile 3-D printed version of the text to enhance the sensory experience and accessibility to the artist’s hand, especially to the deaf and blind. The final version of the codex will come with an accompanying subtitled video walkthrough and reading of the book with sound effects and Aztec music composed with Indigenous Mexican instruments courtesy of Mexican/Cuban ethnomusicologist and preservationist, Juan Carlos Portillo.