dead sea dress

Every so often, I catch a story in the news that really makes me sit up; more often than not, they offer more evidence that animals are nowhere near as stupid as some humans would have us believe, but sometimes they’re quite different. This story featured an Israeli photographer who immersed a plain, rather old fashioned dress into the Dead Sea and left it for two months. Over that period, he photographed the change in the fabric of the dress as time went on. The final picture, reproduced above, is stunning.

As you can see, the dress is now completely encrusted with salt, making the details of the dress stand out and (I expect) glisten in the sunlight. Not sure I would want to wear it though, it would be stiff and brittle and very uncomfortable.

I’m reminded of the story about how teeth rot when placed in a bottle of cola (and various provings/disprovings of the theory) due to the citric acid and sugars. I do know that flat cola is one of the best toilet cleaners I’ve found and yes, I’ve cleaned dirty old coins with it as well. Then again, I have also cleaned my jewellery in neat gin (the higher the proof the better) and used strong neat vodka to sterilise and clean piercings. However, with this dress we have the changes to the fabric being documented over time, and as a piece of art, it’s wonderful. As a science experiment, it’s pretty amazing.

The Dead Sea region has not fared too well lately; the combined assault of global cosmetics companies, tourism and climate change mean that this kind of project may soon become a thing of the past – the Dead Sea will itself die away. Surely one of the lessons this art project explores is how entropy impacts on man-made structures? I wonder what would happen if I took three identical dresses and submerged one in the Thames, one in the sea and one in a Highland loch for two months. How would they be different – or similar? How long would it take for the changes to become apparent? Would any of them look as striking as this dress?

Perhaps one day, I’ll do that…


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