“My work is primarily dye- and stitch-based, which are very meditative processes—so much so that often I drift into a sort of transcendental operational state wherein the tasks are being done by my body exclusively, and I am free to float away mentally in a way I cannot when I’m sitting still or lying down. Its very much like the clear mind that I achieve while running, as my body is pleased and distracted by its being kept busy in a way I don’t need to actively focus on. This is how I assume a computer feels when a screensaver calmly washes over the screen. “I am so in the zone that I can do this in my sleep,” the computer and I say, as we mentally check out.
I am of a certain age that, despite computers evolving alongside me into something handheld and ubiquitous, the word “screensaver” is still a metonym for one very specific image—After Dark’s flying toasters. I remember walking into my grade school computer class each week to a field of bulky Macintosh cubes, all awash with synchronized mesmerizing streams of flying toasters and toast slices floating northeast to southwest through an empty void. So, when I am working, if A + B = C, and, while working, the transcendent state is a screensaver taking over my brain, and a screensaver manifests in only one way to me, then the empty void these toasters and toast are floating through most often these days is the one right at the center of my own head.
I like to point at the patterns in my life and lean into anything meta; so I thought, how fun would it be to reach this Mental State of Toast through, rather than any old gesture, the intense physical labor that would come from fabricating by hand these very symbols—which to me have only ever been synonymous with effortless intangibility, something that appears out of nowhere, gently, often unnoticed, as a result of inaction. Yes, I will simultaneous destroy my personal symbol of transcendence and bring into existence a fleet of flying toasters and slices of toast, which I will send careening past the screen of another viewer, like whoever was inside those Macintosh cubes all those years ago doing the same for me.”
Sleep Mode — Cotton, dye, velour, thread, wire, cardboard, poly-fil.
Sammi Skolmoski is a writer and fiber artist born, living, and probably dying in Chicago. She is the managing editor at Featherproof Books, a headline contributor at The Onion, and regularly publishes elsewhere. Her work has been covered in Vulture, Entropy, and the San Diego Union-Tribune, and she regularly shows in Chicago and LA. She holds an MFA from SAIC.