Photos by Aleix Plademunt

mechamystics Dilalica

“Mechamystic: invisible mechanics in which we are immersed in trembling.” Granada  visionary filmmaker José Val del Omar (1904 – 1982) coined this term in one of his collages, dated between 1977 and 1982, alongside other brief text fragments and the image of sound waves.

Mechamystic, coined by Val del Omar, is a fundamental concept in his work. In his writings, we find it in two variants, as indicated by Javier Ortiz-Echagüe. The first one appears in the text “The Pedagogical Missions and Cinema” (1943), where Val del Omar writes: “I understand life (…) as not only an intentional mystical attitude but something more embodied, life as a meta-mystical action, an action that descends from ecstasy to build glory with the heart and hands” (1). On the other hand, quoted as mechamystic, Val del Omar opens up this relationship between mechanics and the invisible suggested by the text of the collage. The filmmaker exposed it thus at a congress on film technique in Turin in 1961: “We must detect and control this spectacle that makes us see without looking, hear without listening, and keep pace without realizing it. We must ride on the machines, and this can only be achieved from a mecha-mystical mental position. From an awareness of the invisible mechanics that surrounds us” (2). This mechamystics, invisible mechanics, embraces us and surrounds us; we are submerged in it, in a relationship between the body and the machine, in the pulsation of a robotic heart.

mechamystics is an exhibition that invites a series of artists to immerse themselves in these ideas and reinterpret them through practices that include installation, experimental film, sound art, video, or sculpture, to think about technique through a vision that seeks to see beyond the immediate. In this exhibition, mechamystics is taken in the plural, as singular practices and approaches to these issues by Raquel G. Ibáñez, Gloria López Cleries, Max Milà Serra, Marc O’Callaghan, Milena Rossignoli, and Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas.

Raquel G. Ibáñez presents a part of her most recent project, Registro de vientos menores (2022 – 2024), a long-term artistic research that explores the relationships between “pneuma” and “anima” – concepts referring to air, breath, soul, spirit… – through the technologies and materialities of the voice. During the process, Raquel has taken three wind instruments, the aeolian harp, the pipe organ, and the human voice, to delve into the sound and poetic qualities of moving air, questioning what is called “natural voice” as something uniquely human. The research takes as a precedent the studies of Almo Farina and Jérôme Sueur in the field of ecoacoustics and authors like Susan McClary on the idea of the minor within musical studies.

On her part, Gloria López Cleries proposes the video essay Your phone is a scrying mirror. When it’s off (2024). In it, Gloria seeks to define the concept of “Phone Scrying” through a drift of scrolling through different social networks and internet content platforms. An off-screen voice, created with an artificial intelligence program, narrates in the first person her experience with divination through the mobile phone screen and her quest to learn more about this viral method of technological clairvoyance.

Max Milà Serra’s work, El ojo místico (2024), takes as a reference the text of art historian Victor Stoichita with the same title, in order to generate a piece that immerses us in a mechanical eye. Taking works from the Spanish Golden Age cited in the book, Max generates an optical instrument that allows for controlling and analyzing images as a machinic retina. In Max’s piece, “the problem of representing the unrepresentable” (3) resonates, as Stoichita presents at the beginning of ‘El ojo místico.’

Marc O’Callaghan’s proposal follows the wake of his most recent project, Correspondencias Simbólicas entre Folklore Católico y Música Mákina en el Casco Antiguo de Barcelona. Within the framework of mechamystics, Marc proposes a psychogeographic route and experimentation between the bells of Barcelona and the historical references of local electronic music. Based on the identification of the notes of the bells and their location on the map, Marc makes a comparison in electronic music themes connecting the city’s Catholic heritage and festive heritage, through a listening exercise and walking art.

Repeating, bending, coinciding. Through work with iron, Milena Rossignoli carries out the repetition of gestures in connection with drawing and a technique that is learned by reproducing it over and over again. Milena evokes the falls learned in martial arts – ukemi, which literally means receiving the body, cushioning the fall – to, through repetition, as in the repetition of curvature, achieve a coincidence in an invisible balance.

Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas takes some verses from Costa Rican poet Carlos Francisco Monge to speak about his film hikisaku (2023): “(…) Tiresias I was, I learned the trickery / of divining the world in the word. / Perhaps I am the memory / of a reader who trembling / his hand passes over the book and feels / like me the signs of this perpetual night (…).” In this gesture of passing the hand over the book, we could be led to Val del Omar’s theory of tactile vision. “When a child is first taught any object, even a burning coal, instinctively he reaches out his hand to grasp it” (4). Jorge’s images, like a burning coal, merge touch and vision, the finger that touches and the eye that peers.

A mechanical tremor intertwines between dream and wakefulness, between machine and human, to access a new perception – “(…) Electric ecstasy: / continuous movement at high frequency / vertical tremor that plunges into clairvoyance / ardor, tremor of living voice” (5).


(1) José Val del Omar, «Misiones Pedagógicas y el cine», Escritos de técnica, poética y mística, edited by Javier Ortiz-Echagüe, Ediciones La Central, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Universidad de Navarra, Barcelona, 2010, p. 46.

(2) José Val del Omar, «Dilema y poder», ibid., p. 159.

(3) Victor I. Stoichita, El ojo místico. Pintura y visión religiosa en el Siglo de Oro español, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1996, p. 11.

(4) José Val del Omar, «Teoría de la Visión Táctil», op. cit., p. 113.

(5) José Val del Omar, Tientos de erótica celeste, Diputación de Granada, Granada, 2012,  p. 29.

Exhibition presented at dilalica from March 20 to June 8, 2024.

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