Photographed by Robert Wedemeyer
“Dust bunny” is a vernacular term for “a mass of fine, dry particles of matter, especially hair and skin particles, formed by static electricity.” (1) This mass serves as a perceptible, though overlooked model of aggregation and self-organization. For the most part, we are conditioned to think of dust bunnies as disposable accumulations to be swept away, or worse, airy masses of irritants that threaten our senses; however, when mindfully considered, these discomforting systems transform into diagrams of association, demonstrating how the formation of material relationships generates higher level identities. All matter disintegrates, but the attraction and reorganization of dissociated fragments into new form is just as fundamental. A dust bunny embodies this type of synthesis; a small amount of matter achieves greater structure and presence as a network. The fibers and particulates do not collapse into a pile or scatter far apart. The strands tangle, creating intersections that attract smaller bits of matter into orbital nodes. Between the nodes are pockets of negative space that inflate the overall volume of a dust bunny. The expansive network of connected nodes generates an illusion of unified behavior, a cloud-like epiphenomena. Though mundane, a dust bunny bears unexpected symmetry to the most complex and baffling systems, such as the accretion of cosmic matter or the organization of memories in the brain.
Many thanks to Pete Hawkes, Maya Miel, Lucas Kazansky, and Christopher Phillips for helping me realize this project at the scale that I envisioned.
(1) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: 2009