Drawing About Looking – what is this?

Earlier this year I was part of a writing project with a group of art students from Lincoln University. It involved being partnered with a student, selecting an object and writing a description of it. From this description the art student had to draw the object. Here’s mine. Can you guess what it is? Visit http://drawingaboutlooking.tumblr.com/page/2 to see if you guessed my object correctly – I’m the first one on there.

The object sits a little way to my left, the light reflecting off its many facets. Today it is silent, but its colour always gives it away; it can’t hide from me. Unloved it is rigid, dull and useless, but in my hand it awakens, flexes, comes to life.


The object’s two sharp teeth are hidden behind red metal lips. Sometimes the teeth glint, silver and menacing. Like a hungry puppy it will take anything I feed it. But even though it bolts its food it never gets enough. It sits with its mouth just slightly open, waiting patiently to be fed again. It seems though that whatever I feed is never quite right; too plain, too dull? It spits it out, leaving a trail of mess in its wake.


The base of the object is slightly rubberized – just enough to be able to remove it from the hard metal of its upper body. One long black arm with a single beckoning hand protrudes from underneath. At my will the limb extends and retracts in jerky, clumsy movements by means of a channel cut into its underside.


The back of the object hides all its inner workings. Here are the guts of the beast: levers and springs, coils and rivets. It’s surprising to me that the object’s moving parts never need oiling but instead have collected a thin layer of dust even though it is well used. When I peer further into this cavity I can just see its forward-sticking tongue – tiny, red and pointed.


The top of the object is at a 45 degree angle to its base. Someone has thoughtfully provided three shallow grooves so that my fingers don’t slide from the steep slope. Or maybe they are only decorative because the grooves, with their rounded ends decrease in equal size, as if they are tumbling down-hill into a letter-box hole in the top. If I peer into the hole, I can see again, in the dark, the small red tongue, poised and pointing, ready to taste.


The red metal weighs heavy in my hand and the object resists me when I press down. But it does bend; pushing against its internal springs, I make the two teeth bite in unison. I can hear metal sliding against metal, a slow creaking and a smooth chomp as its teeth punch through. This time, thank goodness, the perfect white discs fall in a dry heap into its flat belly.

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