Pavel Novotný: Teaspoon

27. říjen 2007

This composition started as no more than an experiment. I wanted to find out how different people describe the same object; I was interested in whether it would be possible to create a kind of portrait in this way. I wanted to know what happens when an object is described from all sides and all angles, from near and far, by sound, smell, touch, etc. I consider the object which I chose for this end to be exceptionally beautiful and harmonious, perfect in both form and function, and - if we allow it - an object with many different meanings.

I find it a shame that this object has almost no chance of escaping the routine which we have assigned it: In a nutshell, all its life is limited to shuttling back and forth between the sink, the kitchen drawer and our mouths. We normally see it as nothing more than an implement for stirring coffee or eating cake. And other items of daily use are no better off: a toothbrush is simply a toothbrush, a sock is a sock, a button is a button... this is how things has been predetermined for all eternity, how we have arranged things. It is all an intricate system of utensils, ladles, slicers, cutters and other tools which we have created to serve us - trapped in their functions.

This recording is thus about IT. I asked my friends and acquaintances to try to look at it as unbiased as possible, to respect its "gastronomic fate" while at the same time seeing it as a thing which exists in its own right. To this end, I chose a perfectly ordinary specimen without ornamentation or writing, i.e. as pure as possible. Many people couldn't come up with more than "I don't know; well, you eat with it, uhm, what do you want to hear, hmm"; others tossed out associations, others offered a technical description, etc. Words met, associations overlapped, and I took all this and edited it and mixed it with the sounds and rhythms of the kitchen and other implements.

While my acquaintances always took no more than a few minutes, my own journey took significantly longer. I struggled with it for around three months, did two months of off-and-on recording, and around one month of working with voices, sounds and noises, mixing and editing. Recording the voices was nothing difficult. Standard operating procedure: grab someone, drag them off somewhere quiet, record. The second phase was noticeably more insane: I had an absolutely absent and wild-eyed look while processing the recorded material, my ears became glued to the headphones, I spent one month talking about nothing but this thing while wildly flailing about with my arms. I was almost afraid to enter the kitchen, to open the drawers, afraid to see and hear it again and again. While stirring tea (yes, apparently as a regular user of this utensil), I recognized sounds from my recording; when draining the sink, it clanged around with the dishes, forks and knives; I saw it again and again, my head buzzing with the words I had recorded. Gradually - sound by sound, word by word - this object began to live its own life, or at least that is how it seemed to me. Who knows, maybe this impression made its way into the final twenty-minute composition.

author: Pavel Novotný_E
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