As beings who live and thrive in the material world, we are perpetually surrounded by objects in varying forms. They are an extension of ourselves; we create, commodify, and utilize them to help us in our day to day lives. However, there’s more to the material and commercial surface of these everyday objects. It is fascinating how we are able to create intimate relationships with these commodified and utilitarian forms; how they can be filled with so much meaning.
I might be wrong, but I think we all have those everyday objects that we cannot seem to let go or throw away because they sustain intimate parts of ourselves. We end up not using them; we just keep these objects hidden away safe because they have become precious to us. It’s remarkable how when we establish an intimate relationship with these objects, they transcend their primary utilitarian purpose. They become vessels to our memories. They become anchors to our losses and histories to make our present lives more bearable. They become tools to help us navigate the narrative we tell ourselves and other people, for us to have a more coherent sense of self. These objects also give us a comforting perception of permanence; through them we are able to make these memories alive in our physical realm. Furthermore, we attach intimate part of ourselves to these objects because we have this notion of romantic longevity about them. That they will last longer than us. They’re easier to preserve if we just keep them safe - but in reality, they are as vulnerable and ephemeral as us.
FORMLESSNESS explores the underlying sadness and ephemerality in this intimate human-object relationship. This book, which is housed and preserved in a shadowbox, contains a collection of everyday objects which people can’t seem to let go and the memories, histories and narratives attached to them. However, the more you intimately engage with this book by touching, the ink rubs off, elevating its preciousness and reinforcing its ephemeral nature.
This piece begs to ask: in the absence of a physical form — when the object ceases to exist physically in our lives — how well are we able to sustain the detailed memory that it contains? How would it disrupt our histories? Moreover, how would this alter the narrative of the ‘self’ which we set to define who we are?