Haviland & Colagiovanni: Music for Teacups

Music for Teacups

‘Music for Teacups’ by Melissa Haviland and David Colagiovanni, a set of compositions in image and sound.

“Music for Teacups” is a collaborative production between Melissa Haviland and David Colagiovanni. Haviland and Colagiovanni recently released an associated 25-foot artists’ book and 7-inch EP featuring sounds from “Music for Teacups” with Small Craft Advisory Press apart of the Facility of Arts Research at Florida State University.

The “Music for Teacups” series is a set of compositions in image and sound that recombine captured footage of falling and breaking teacups. This work is part of a larger body of work exploring issues of class, etiquette, and family upbringing using a confined yet complex language. One of the most important aspects of the work is that the sounds you are hearing are a direct representation of what you are seeing. In other words, we have captured both the image and sound of the moment a teacup or bell opens up, bounces on the ground or violently shatters and subsequently found the musicality hidden within these transformative events.

How the project began

We thought we would be able to catch a still of the moment a teacup splits apart when it breaks. Since the RED can record at 100 frames per second, we thought we’d be able to pull a still from the video, which we did. The downside to over-cranking a video camera is that you can’t record sound, so on one of the takes we recorded sound on an iPhone using the voice memo app. When we came home, we were looking through the videos and pulling out stills and synced the audio we recorded with the iPhone. We started editing and realized that the project was just as much about the sound as it was the image. The work began and progressed from there. We were lucky enough to have the RED camera provided to us by the Renci Center to take on our road trip to Carson, New Mexico a few weeks later. In Carson, we shot the first two works in “Music for New Mexico–Brass and Bells” and the first section of the work “Music for Teacups–Corelle.” We premiered these at the Southwest Film Center in Albuquerque later that fall in an AV Fest put together by Basement Films. We’ve recorded a few hundred teacups, gravy boats, creamers, and bells breaking since.

When we broke the first teacup in Maine, all we could talk about was breaking a whole set of china at the same time; and, with months of planning behind us and a generous Baker grant from Ohio University, we pulled it off this July, breaking seven full sets of china in rural Youngsville, N.C., on a former student’s horse farm.

Artist Bios

Melissa Haviland is an artist whose work straddles the boundaries between printmaking and installation-performance. She explores lineage, ritual, and practice within objects that are gendered and classed, like fine china.

David Colagiovanni is an artist/composer interested in the reconfiguration and sequencing of video, sound and space. “I try to make works that allow the viewer to stop or slow down for a bit. I’d like to allow them a moment to breathe,” says Colagiovanni about his work. Colagiovanni was the Artist in Residence at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at UNC Chapel Hill. He earned a master of fine arts from UNC Chapel Hill; earned a bachelor’s in studio art, sculpture, and performance from the University of Maine; and studied painting and drawing at Lorenzo De Medici in Florence and at Savannah College of Art and Design