A Forest: New Work by Sylvia Matas
(Interview by Kerri-Lynn Reeves)

KLR: The title "A Forest" seems to pose the question – can you see the forest for the trees? And does this forest represent all forests – is it an exemplary forest?

SM: I don't think of it as representing a forest literally. The 'forest' can be a stand-in for many things like physical space, the unconscious mind, the border between the known and unknown or a psychological state.

KLR: The text indicates different sets of progressing dates, or time periods. Can you tell me more about those?

SM: For me the dates suggest things like deep time, cosmological time, cycles– a past extending backward from the present moment to the beginning of everything and forward toward various theoretical endings, the unknown fate of the universe. They do represent actual past and future events, but the specific events are not important.

KLR: Do you have an interest in a specific history or is it more the idea and construction of History?

SM: History as a subject isn't something that I think about in my work, but rather the idea of time, which in our experience is made up of the past, but also the future and present. We experience time in a linear fashion, but it is often described by science and mythology as being cyclical or synchronous. As with many things, the way we perceive time through the filter of being human, might not be accurate or the best description.

KLR: Botany, biology, geography, and history seem to be common themes in this body of work, as well as other recent works. Where does this interest come from? These are all disciplines that are built upon objective observation and research – related to fact. What do they represent to you?

SM: My work evolves partly from researching subjects that interest me like time, space, consciousness, perception, cosmology and nature, to name a few. Science and art are similar in that they are both inquisitions into unknown areas and both use metaphorical languages to describe reality and the complexity of the human experience. They have different ways of presenting information, each with their own limitations. Scientific systems of classification for example, create distinctions between things and show our desire to quantify things endlessly, up to and including the shape of the universe. Drawing and art in general can be an experiment. It is a way to try things out and play with ways of perceiving things that are not a part of day-to-day experience. My research, together with my own experience is the starting point of my work.

KLR: In your recent project In Every Direction, you explore notions of disorientation. This disorientation seems to be physical and mental. Where does this enter this new body of work?

SM: One of the things that I was thinking about with In Every Direction was the point of crossover between mental and physical environments. There is a blurring of boundaries and sense of consciousness exceeding the body. From outside the body, maybe it is possible to experience things simultaneously from various perspectives– not just spatially, but in time and though various filters. We understand that our perception is limited and that the brain fills in many blanks. These grey areas and in between states are of interest to me.