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From Dust, To Dust

Over an 8-month period when we were unavoidably living in different countries, we played a game in which we collected and traded our pocket lint between Singapore and London – smuggling it in the corners and crevices of small objects, and mailing these objects to each other. The balls of lint on display are composed of our traded lint.

"From Dust, To Dust" at Bermonsey Project Space, London, 2014.

“From Dust, To Dust” is a work consisting of four balls of dust and pocket lint, collected and traded between Singapore and London.

As a young child I used to keep a pocket lint collection, memorialising my childhood days through the dirt and dust that I generated and accumulated in my pockets.

George and I were in a long distance relationship in 2013, when I was living in Singapore and George was living in London. Over the course of many intercontinental flights, I became acutely aware of baggage weight limits, and the physical limitations on what one can transport between countries.

I was intrigued by the physicality of the dust I would inadvertently transport while travelling between countries. I would be surprised to land in a new country and to discover a strand of George’s hair still clinging to my jacket. These tiny physical fragments which seemed to be of no considerable or measurable weight made our separate physical realities seem much closer even when we had to live very far apart.

I privately imagine that as an inveterate collector of lost things, I could perhaps play the role of the duitiful collector of George-particles, secretly forming a minature archive of George to remind me of George in his absense. I begin to imagine George as being “a giant piece of George”, convieniently shedding tiny bits of George-as-material, in the form of hairs, flakes of skin, and various dust, scraps, clippings and crumbs. How many times can a fragment of “George” be divided until it stops being a part of “George”?

It seemed unfair that George’s hair should be allowed to accidentally travel with me, but not the rest of George. Consequently, I became jealous of the dust and pocket lint that got to be close to George, hiding inside his pockets all the time. It seemed like dust could go anywhere it wanted, without being noticed or audited. But wasn’t Debbie simply a giant piece of dust, constantly shedding tiny bits of Debbie as dust? Why should it be so difficult for Debbie and George to be close to each other?

Over the 8-month period when we were living in different countries, we began a game in which George and Debbie traded pocket lint – smuggling it in the corners and crevices of small toys and objects, and mailing these objects to each other. We were intrigued to test how much pocket lint of indeterminate origin and material could be hidden inside objects that would easily escape the examination and scrutiny of the post office as well as customs. The physical properties of lint seems completely arbitrary and almost negligible at first, but its weight eventually adds up.

“From Dust, To Dust” is a 40-page full-colour perfect-bound book released on 12 June 2014. The book includes pieces such as “How to Collect Dust”, “How to Become Homeless”, and “How to Arrive in a New Place”.

How to Collect Dust

Begin to collect dust whilst in motion.

You cannot collect dust by sitting still. If you sit at home all day waiting for the dust to appear in front of your, you will not find dust. Dust only appears mysteriously in places you didn’t think could collect dust, such as on the glossy top of a book which you placed on top of a table a few days ago, or on the ledge besides the bed where you place your glasses at night.

Dust is also in motion. Once you have stopped looking for dust and assidously removing it from surfaces, then dust will take over all of those surfaces that were once under your control.

Dust reminds us that all objects that seem solid and discrete to us now will eventually lose their structural unity and shed parts of themselves as dust. Even you are in a process of becoming dust as well.

Dust is a process. Everything that is not dusty right now is already progressing towards a state of becoming covered in dust, or turning into dust. Without the intervention of man and our habits of collecting dust, dust would have taken over long ago.

Dust should surprise you with its physical appearance. Dust may appear thicker than it actually is. Dust should surprise you by how immaterial it really is, when you blow it off a surface, or try to wipe it off with a finger.

You can start by collecting dust in the corners of bags, pockets, wallets, pencilcases, and other portable things. Pockets are especially good, because of the friction caused by you being in motion. Dust is able to compress itself and hide itself inbetween the folds which occur in the construction of pockets in your garments.

Some pockets collect more dust than others. Some pockets don’t, or may even seem to swallow everything that you put into them. Sometimes you have to be patient. You might not find any dust in some pockets for months. We have observed this in some pockets. We have no good explanation for this.

At the airport before taking a flight, when you are unexpectedly interrupted whilst you are eating a biscuit, temporarily slip the half-eaten biscuit into your pocket so you can concentrate on the conversation at hand.

Arrive in another country and discover the crumbled remains of a biscuit at the bottom of your pocket.

Marvel at how it is probably still edible, but will not be suitable for eating now that is has gained the significance of reminding you of a previous time and space that cannot be relived, or re-consumed, or re-constituited.

Comfort yourself by imagining the pocket as a magical time and space portal which might be beaming trace amounts of your dust into another plane of existence.