Sewing into Time and Space

  1. Elena Berriolo

When we look at a book on our shelf or lying on a table, we can estimate how long it would take for us to read it or how long it took [the book’s author] to write it by guessing the number of pages it contains. The page of a book is a unit of time as experienced by an individual. An hour or a minute are the same for everyone, but our time on a page is defined by our emotional and physical experience. These experiences are unique to that very book and to ourselves.

Because of the sewing machine ability to produce a real three-dimensional line that is able to embrace the two sides of the page as time unit, , by sewing on a page and reaching with my needle and thread into the other side, I am able to include time and space.

For example, in my book Metamorphosis (2012, sewing machine thread, pen and watercolor)

Metam 1 metam 2-3 Metam 4

page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4

when I work on the first page with my sewing machine, I can also imagine what I am going to see on the other side as soon as I will be able to turn the page; once there, I am confronted with the memory of the past from the first page, since its specular image is now on the second page and I can now proceed sewing on the third page, again reaching into the fourth page with my needle.

This process is repeated throughout the 16 pages of the book.

By working on the series of books using the process described above, I became interested in exploring the further implications of the perforation of a book in the pursuit of time and space. This research brought me to the Perforation of the Fibonacci Sequence in a Book (2012).

fibonacci-1 fibonacci-2 fibonacci-3

fig 1(fib1)

fig 2(fib 2)

fig 3(fib 3)

fibonacci-4 fibonacci-5 fibonacci-6
 fig 4(fib5) fig 5(fib 8) fig 6(fib13)

Fig.1 the whole book is perforated with one hole from top to bottom: Fibonacci number 1

Fig.2 Since every spread has now two holes, one on the right and one on the left page. That is the Fibonacci number 2

Fig. 3 one more hole is perforated through the right spread to obtain Fibonacci number 3

Fig. 4 Since every spread has now four holes, two on the right and two on the left side; one more hole is perforated through the right spread to produce Fibonacci number 5.

Fig. 5 Since every spread has now six holes, three on the left and three on the right, so two more holes are perforated through the right spread to find Fibonacci number 8.

Fig. 6 because now every spread has 10 holes, 5 on the left and 5 on the right three more holes are perforated in the book through the right spread to produce Fibonacci number 13…


fig 7 (fib 377)

Fig. 7 144(right spread) and 144 (left spread) +89 (third preceding spread)= Fibonacci 377 or 144 x 2+89=377

Through my experience of perforating the Fibonacci sequence in a book, I have come to believe that the book itself is a machine able to represent time and space.

We are told the Fibonacci sequence is produced by adding a present value (for example number 3) to a past value (for example number 2) to obtain a future value (for example number 5):





When one produces [the Fibbonaci sequence] in a book, one must reach much deeper into the past—up to the third preceding sequence number—to find the same future:

0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21

This is how I obtained the Fibonacci number 13 through perforation in the book above (fig 6):

because of the previous perforations I have 5 (right spread) + 5 (left spread)= 10 holes, therefore I must add three perforations on the right side of the spread, Fibonacci number 3 being previous to Fibonacci number 5 and I obtain Fibonacci number 13.

Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics presents “Sewing is Writing is Body is Sewing” as part of the inaugural [DIS]EMBODIED POETICS Conference, occurring in conjunction with the Kerouac School’s 40th anniversary. The panel was given in October 2014.