This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural. Living organisms quickly repopulate areas left barren by volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, forest fires, or even human activities, like paving. Once thriving Mayan cities were completely reclaimed by jungles when people abandoned the cities. According to Cartesian physics, the entire cosmos is plenum, which means that it is absolutely full of actual entities. This is true of the air around us, it is true of rocks, it is all—completely full! Consequently, there can be no vacuum.

It is ironic, therefore, that we name a household machine designed to be filled, after a completely empty space. Vacuuming is a task to clean. This is achieved by violently sucking dirt into a receptacle leaving the area free of dust and dirt. But, since a vacuum cannot exist, this is a Sisyphean task. No sooner is the room clean then it is ready to be cleaned again.

The word vacuum can act as noun and a verb. I own a vacuum and I vacuum my house. The word comes from the Latin, vaccus, which means empty. The word vacuous also comes from the Latin vaccus, and means devoid of significance or point, asinine.

In a vacuous attempt to create order out of chaos, we vacuum. The vacuum represents the emptiness and disasters so apparent in our culture. When something is removed, something else rushes in to replace it. When the political landscape changes, a dictator is removed, walls crumble, regimes change, art movements become isms, the sudden vacuum is filled, sometimes violently with new ideas, systems and people. Even our minds are incapable of being empty; people describe attempts at meditation as a thousand monkeys clamoring in your head for attention.

So I have turned my thoughts to vacuuming and those who do it. It is considered a domestic task. Women still do the brunt of domestic work. In my landscape, women attempt to "clean" and alter the landscape as they perform their domestic chores. Their minds wander amidst the white noise and the repetitiousness of the vacuming. What are they vacuuming? What are they thinking? What is filling their world?