After much consideration, the only conclusion that I can come to is that the tea cup can only be defined by the physical, social and emotional interaction of its use. To further explore the individual interactions between people and the object, I used a dictophone to record tea drinkers conversations in coffee shops and other locations around the city. Obviously I had to do this discreatly in order to achieve an authentic recording, however the dictophone was drawing a lot of unwanted attention even when hidden. The recordings that I took were also muffled by uncontrollable background noise so the strategy was simply ineffective. As a much more pheasable alternative, I made a small log of snippets of conversations which I carried with me for a week so that I could to add to it whenever an appropriate oppertunity arose.
What I was doing seemed like a massive invasion of privacy, but I'm not going to lie... I was a little bit excited by the idea of these strangers conversations as eaves dropped secrets and records of information that was never meant to be written down. In the same way that I attempted to preserve the projections of the tea drinkers with the wax filled tea bags, I wanted to preserve these conversations without totally revealing the private natterings of people joined together in social ritual.
With wax in mind as a previously successful preservation material, I explored secret messages using wax as a resist between layers of paper, and tea as the revealing pigment. I sandwiched the wax between the layers because I didn't want the messages to be visible before the tea was poured over them, however this method also allowed for a subtle reveal that only partially exposed the eaves dropped conversations. The two images above test generosity of the application of wax and the number of layers of paper used to conceal.
Learning from the process I have re-visited my paper cup. With subverted meaning through compromised functionality, I have combined the cup with the conversation pieces as the rout of this whole project still lies with the original object. Whichever angle I choose to approach the visual language and coding of the object, the one consistent undercurrent is the value of communication and mutual understandings of a shared belief system. At least, in the Western world amongst the working classes, we know what it means to have a cup of tea and our understandings of this shared ritual are informed by the same one culture. A cup of tea is a safe encounter.
Using some excess paper I attached the paper cup to the concealed conversation pieces. I gradually added tea to the cup allowing it to absorb through the whole piece revealing its secrets.