Washing up recording #2 \_/* 06.01.08

The second washing-up recording

This washing-up recording was made after lunch during the early afternoon. The food cooked involved some revision of a couple of scrawled-down curry recipes and it was cooked collaboratively and not just by me. The recipes involved peanuts, butternut squash, creamed-coconut and tinned sweetcorn. We decided that these foodstuffs would be economical and colourful, offering cheery yellows and oranges on a dark January day. The collaborative aspect of our cooking meant I deviated somewhat from my original intention to form a strict exchange between cooking and washing-up, but then things are always changing form in the kitchen.

melt, dissolve, crystallize, absorb, smear, mix, separate, boil, dry, crush, coagulate, blend, rest, settle, caramelise, clean, dirty, freeze, rinse, coat, dip, pool, sweat, clarify, thicken, dilute, dry

I am also now interested in what exactly to include when I document recordings of washing up. What should I keep in and what should I leave out? Should I for instance comment on this hand-knitted dishcloth that was in the kitchen where Washing up recording #2 \_/* 06.01.08 took place?

A handknit dishcloth, ragged with age and grey in colour

The dishcloth involved certainly deviates from strictly sonic aspects of the process of washing-dishes but it is arguably an important contextual aspect of Washing up recording #2 \_/* 06.01.08. At several points during the washing-up process, our interest turns to the utensils associated with washing-up and the fine or weak aspects of their design.

Initially I am not sure how relevant to a study of the Domestic Soundscape such details would be. On the other hand the sonic properties of a hand-knitted dishcloth may differ significantly from those possessed by the familiar green, synthetic sponge. Certainly there are marked differences between the sounds created by a deep or a shallow sink, a stainless steel or a wooden worktop, a ceramic or a metal surface and the acoustic qualities of the items being washed in the sink. Additionally one has to consider the shape and size of the room where the washing-up is being done, the presence or absence of absorbent materials like curtains or carpets in the room where recording is taking place and the technical specifications of the recording equipment. Varying any or all of these aspects will alter sound recordings made of washing-up.

Add to that the background noises of any given home, (a boiler, a washing-machine, a crying child, a television, a storm outside the house etc. etc.) and you realise just how endless the variables are.

There is also the inevitability of conversation to consider. As people are doing their washing-up and discussing this with me, other topics inevitably penetrate the conversation. But aren’t these unconsidered words uttered inside the home as much a part of the Domestic Soundscape as the mechanical or technical aural results of steel hitting ceramic? Porcelain touching wood? Vigorous or gentle scrubbing?

This is, in part, why I have undertaken this project. Having listened to the recording of Washing up recording #2 \_/* 06.01.08 and Washing-Up recording #1 several times, I am struck by several things:

  • Things discussed during washing-up and all aspects of those attendant conversations shape my understanding of recordings as much as other sonic aspects of the recordings.
  • The potential exists to design washing-up both systematically and materially, from an aural or sonic position.
  • Individual systems exist within people’s styles of washing-up that could be translated using another time-based medium such as music.
  • Contextual information such as the price of the food cooked, the accents of people speaking on the recording, the topics of conversation on a recording, the equipment and system used all inevitably relate to issues of class, gender and identity.

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