In my studio, I don't know how to order the objects I have acquired, and thus I experience disorder. I relocate them "chaotically" around in the space. First in a drawer, then hanging on a wall, then in a box. One of them draped on an antique dress form acquired from a studio-mate. Adding several other items with colors and shapes that dance pleasingly together. Leaving things alone for hours, days, weeks, months. Returning and seeing anew. Removing things. Giving up. Setting two things on a table. Then, a form, a pattern, a thing or idea, begins to emerge from the union of previously separated things. Unscheduled time and open space are ingredients in this emergence. The inherent relationship of objects begins to resonate and sing. The whole thing is very ordinary, and humble, magical, and mysterious all at once. 

Sometimes I make or collect materials and hang on to them for months, even years. According to the online fabric printing service I used, I ordered the fabric that's in this photo (above) on August 25, 2017. The print is from my own design, I thought I might make myself a dance costume from it. The crocheted item in this photo dates from the beginning of 2018, it was a random pointless project of doing my usual freeform lace work on a larger scale and with a different fiber. After a while of having these items floating around many others in my studio I finally noticed they might go well together and form a garment. For weeks now I've been arranging and rearranging them, trying to figure out a dress or shirt using the crocheted piece as a yoke. I'm about ready to start in with a needle and thread. Hopefully I will invent a dress soon.

I recently came across this quote from the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. She invented her literary monster out of sewn-together body parts, forming an archetype of 19th century Western mythology. Shelley wrote of her creative process: “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos...” 

It is understandable that Shelley posits "void" and "chaos" as two separate things. Shelley's stated humility could be read as a product of her place in history, as a creative woman in a predominantly Christian society. Her logic implies that inventing things out of the void is clean, divine, and godlike, while working curiously with disorderly reality is a more dirty, messy, and human way to invent things. By aligning her view of invention as trucking with disorderly matter, she's telling us she'd not godly, she can't make something from nothing.

As an author of horror and sci-fi, Shelley might also have been consciously or unconsciously aligning herself with Chaos, the goddess in Ancient Greek cosmology: "Personified as a female, Chaos was the primal feature of the universe, a shadowy realm of mass and energy from which much of what is powerful (and mostly negative and dark) in the world would stem forth...." However, Chaos isn't just something, she is also nothing: "... the very first of all, the origin of everything, the empty, unfathomable space at the beginning of time."

I am still working this out, but there is a weird way in which the chaos/void split represents a human perspective brimming with hubris while also being unnecessarily meek and disempowered. I would say Shelley was a wild powerhouse at wrestling matter into form, and she danced bravely with emptiness and the unknown. She was a true sister of Chaos, though she may have been wearing a corset. 

Update July 29, 2018

Felt like the dress was taking form. Then the back wasn't hanging right. I cut and cut...and now it is a badly-fitting top. It is time to decide whether to give up, let the form be a form of failure or order more yardage of the fabric and try again to move the dress into being. 




asimina chremos