Approximately one year ago, I participated in a tour at the archive of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, which included a visit to the storage and conservation facility of hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of radio and television sets, record players, loudspeakers, and numerous other apparatuses designed for recording, broadcasting, playing and projecting sounds and images. These objects – carefully ordered, numbered, and free of dust – were all turned off, standing silent and motionless, in total contrast to their original function. Moreover, the person in charge of their conservation explained that, in accordance with the national preservation law, once the objects enter the archive and are stored in its facility, it is strictly forbidden to turn them on for fear of damaging them: after all, they are now part of the country’s national heritage!
Most of the objects presented before you – from the recent remake of a prehistoric hand axe to the last of contemporary drones – were selected for this exhibition out of a large collection that is carefully stored and preserved in the museum basement. Yet these objects – if we only care to listen to them – are anything but mute. They echo stories from their past and events from the future. They attest to encounters with human beings and speak of interactions with other objects. They brag about their various functions, and reveal much about their material and emotional qualities. They applaud their creators and whisper their secrets.
Let us, then, discover what they yearn to share. Let us open our eyes, and above all listen with our ears, attending to their stories. What resonates from among the catalogue pages of Hebrew typography? What sound do the polished silver pieces make? What emanates from the depths of the glass? How does porcelain shatter? Who is creaking? Who is rattling? Who is rubbing against whom? Who is using what? And what is the unspoken message of the one whose voice is not heard?
Hand-held stone, Lower Paleolithic, ca. 500,000 years ago
Ilan Molcho (editor), Hebrew Typography: Practical Letters Catalogue Binder. Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, 1980
Gal On (manufacturer), Table Fan, 1961
OTOTO (Daniel Gassner and Ori Saidi), T-Party Vase, 2005
J. Princenteil (manufacturer), Cheese and Butter Cutlery, 1950s
Philip Starck for Saba, Jim Nature Portable Television, 1994
Autocars (manufacturer),Susita – Cube Model, 1959-1966
Brill Shoe Industries (manufacturer), Standard Army Shoes, 2014
Percepto (manufacturer), Sparrow Autonomous Drone V 2.4, 2018