Installation Art > Tumbled, Dried, and Softened

Used dryer sheets, thread, and blue lights
2013

I identify myself as a sojourner, a person who stays in one place temporarily. As a sojourner, I often find it difficult to get to know people in depth. I often wish to get to know people a little better and have them know me a little better, beyond the 'surface'. With this piece, I expressed this sojourner’s condition and explored how relationships with people are formed considering the notion of 'surface' from various aspects.

I used dryer sheets as a material for this piece because first of all, its surface has an interesting delicate texture with tiny holes like people’s skin - the surface of our bodies. It also has scent; the words related to scent are often used metaphorically to describe the character or impression of people. Another reason I chose dryer sheets is because of its function - preventing static cling and softening the fabric. This reminds me of ways that people’s relationships are formed.

I collected used dryer sheets by going to a laundry frequently. I often asked the customers there to give me their used dryer sheets. Talking to unknown people made me feel humbled and it trained me to become positive beyond the surface of shyness. Each dryer sheet can represent individuals as they were used by different individual people. About 1,500 dryer sheets were used for this piece. I ironed them, cut them into various flowery shapes with some ripped edges – thinking about how people bloom in their own ways but have hurts and wounds that are ripped and open, in one way or another. Then, I hand sewed them together while consciously thinking that these unknown people could become somebody significant in my life or that I could become somebody significant in their life, even though we may have differences on the surface.

For the structure as a whole, I made a space that we can get into and get out beyond the surface, just like people’s relationships. When we get inside the space, we are almost tangled by the strips of dryer sheets, just like inside a dryer machine. In a dryer machine, our clothes which are the surface for our bodies, and the dryer sheets are tumbled together. The title of this piece, ‘Tumbled, Dried, and Softened’ is what happens to the clothes inside the dryer machine, which reminds me of the process of building up relationships with people.

The blue color created by the lights represents the water in our wet clothes in a dryer machine. It represents the water in our body as well. Also, it represents the "living water" from above. This work reminds me that we need this living water as human beings in order to live, and to build good relationships with people.

(This piece was originally made for a group show under the theme of ‘surface’.)