typewriters

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Art Illustration

Cross A Bridge: A Typewriter Illustration Backdrops a Meditative Trip to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art

May 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Lenka Clayton takes viewers on a short road trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art in a tiny and unusual vehicle. A 1957 Smith Corona Skyriter chugs along sparsely illustrated streets constructed with angled letters and punctuation previously typed on a single sheet of paper in her 2018 work “Cross A Bridge.” Commissioned by the Pittsburgh institution, the video project follows Clayton’s type guide as it steadily inches along the city’s roadways and passes by landmarks like the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Fort Pitt Bridge, and Monongahela River before coming to a stop at the museum’s entrance.

Find dozens of Clayton’s inky illustrations, along with a similar 2016 project about going home, on her site and Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Design History

A Rare Toshiba Typewriter from the 1950s Operates with a Trilingual Index of Thousands of Characters

April 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

In the 1940s, Toshiba began producing index typewriters with massive, horizontal cylinders containing thousands of symbols. One edition, the BW-2112—watch the demonstration by the New Orleans-based Typewriter Collector above to see how the redesign utilizes manual rotation and a metal pointer to print the characters—was a particularly advanced model with keys in three languages: Japanese, Chinese, and English.

The trilingual device ordered the characters in a manner similar to what you’d find in a Japanese dictionary, which is explained on the Typewriter Collector’s page as follows:

They’re arranged phonetically by most common “on-yomi” (or kun-yomi in some cases) according to the kana syllabary (many homophones, of course)… Red characters help parse the readings. Last character to left of equal sign can be pronounced “kin” (exert) and the first character in next row “gin” (silver), then “ku” (suffer) in red followed by “kuu” (sky, empty), “kuma” (bear), “kun” (teachings, meaning [also the kun in kun-yomi]), “gun” (group), then “kei” (system) in red followed many, homophones of “kei”.

Unfortunately, Toshiba stopped producing the model when it switched to a Western-style keyboard in the mid-1950s that instead had 48 Japanese Kana characters, making devices like this one exceedingly rare. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Art

Symmetrical Typewriter Sculptures by Artist Jeremy Mayer Merge the Organic and Manufactured

November 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Untitled II” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 65 x 65 x 12 inches

“There’s nothing unnatural about mechanical components,” Jeremy Mayer says. For decades, the artist has harbored a fascination with the repetitive, complex patterns of single-cell organisms and the delicately rendered illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, an attraction that manifests in his latest sculptures.

Spanning up to 65 inches, Mayer’s metal artworks are comprised of old typewriter parts mounted around a laser-cut aluminum frame with only the original screws, nuts, pins, and springs holding the mirrorlike pieces together. Formed around a central, circular element, the multi-unit assemblages splay outward. Each of the six points—which evoke starfish, despite having one extra arm—often resemble trilobites, pincers, and other creatures and organic elements, merging the manufactured and natural.

“The form and function are based upon our knowledge of the living world around us. I’m interested in making the machine look like a living thing, drawing inspiration from the relationships that the early designers of the typewriter had with nature,” he says.

 

“Untitled I” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x10 inches

Mayer purchases between 10 and 15 typewriters each year, which he sources from repair shops, thrift stores, and yard sales around the San Francisco Bay Area. “The more broken the better,” he writes. In the past, he’s gravitated toward the smaller components of the metal machines to assemble birds, skulls, and other figurative sculptures. After transporting the bulky leftovers from studio to studio for years, he gathered enough duplicate parts to construct the symmetrical sculptures.

The ongoing series was born out of a residency at Mumbai-based manufacturer Godrej & Boyce, during which Mayer was asked to create works from leftover typewriters. During his six months, he built mandala-like sculptures and a 13-foot-tall kinetic lotus that explored the connections between industry and biological forms.

Mayer finished the first sculpture of this most recent series at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns and almost has completed five since. He has plans for ten in total, and you can follow their progress on Instagram.

 

“Untitled III” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x 14 inches

“Untitled III” (2020) (detail), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x 14 inches

“Untitled I” (2020) (detail), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x10 inches

“Untitled II” (detail) with Cleo Mayer

Studio with “Untitled IV” in progress

 

 



Art

Conceptual Typewriter Sculptures by Glenda León Replace Keys With Dripping Candles and Acrylic Nails

May 2, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Artist Glenda León affixes objects such as matchsticks, melted candles, and acrylic nails to typewriters she sources from antique dealers in Havana, Cuba. Each item replaces the machine’s rubber stamps or keys, and is presented with a different meaning, such as her piece The Insatiable Writer which contains a variety of collected teeth. “The pieces of human teeth establish an analogy between the act of speaking, chewing, consuming and writing,” León explains in an artist statement about the piece. “In the absence of something to swallow, or imagining only a blank sheet as possible food, writing becomes then a devourer of voids, blank sheets.”

The Cuban artist currently splits her time between Havana and Madrid. Her work is currently included in the group exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at the Portland Museum of Art through May 5, 2019 and Never Real / Always True at the Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao, Spain through September 22, 2019. You can see more of León’s interventions, like her cubed piano key sculpture, on her website and Instagram.

 

 



Art Design

Mechanations: Historical Machines Exploded into Individual Components in Sculptures by John A. Peralta

October 10, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

"Singer is Sewing Made Easy II" (2018), Singer Sewing Machine (c. 1910), wood, steel, latex, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filament, LED lighting, 42 x 30 x 18 in, all images © John Peralta

“Singer is Sewing Made Easy II” (2018), Singer Sewing Machine (c. 1910), wood, steel, latex, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filament, LED lighting, 42 x 30 x 18 in, all images © Dave DeGendt

Artist John Peralta creates sculptural odes to some of our most historic innovations by organizing and suspending components of sewing machines, typewriters, and old film projectors. In his “Mechanations,” Peralta hangs each screw, wheel, and lightbulb side-by-side in specially created lightboxes, creating three-dimensional diagrams which illuminate the inner workings of each machine.

The sculptures break down the mechanics of the 20th-century devices, presenting a unique peek into the simplicity of objects before the Digital Revolution. Peralta dissects iconic machines in areas such as design, communication, and entertainment. This technique, which he has used for over a decade, was inspired by seeing a similar sculptural diagram on the back of a Chinese magazine in 2005.  “I was inspired by its fragile beauty, and imagined a three-dimensional version with a real object,” Peralta outlines on his website. “Using only a ruler and simple tools, which I still use today, I developed techniques for suspension which expose the inner workings of these humble mechanical objects.”

The artist’s work will be included in a presentation by New York and Los Angeles-based gallery George Billis at the upcoming SOFA fair from November 1-4, 2018 at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Peralta also has a solo show at Billis’ New York location, which runs from December 11, 2018 to January 12, 2019.  You can see more of Peralta’s work on his website and Instagram.

"Singer is Sewing Made Easy II" (detail) (2018)

“Singer is Sewing Made Easy II” (detail) (2018)

"Singer is Sewing Made Easy II" (detail) (2018)

“Singer is Sewing Made Easy II” (detail) (2018)

"Blickensderfer No. 8" (2018), Blickensderfer No. 8 Typewriter (c. 1908-1910), wood, steel, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filaments, 40 x 40 x 12 in

“Blickensderfer No. 8” (2018), Blickensderfer No. 8 Typewriter (c. 1908-1910), wood, steel, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filaments, 40 x 40 x 12 in

"Blickensderfer No. 8" (detail) (2018)

“Blickensderfer No. 8” (detail) (2018)

"The Big Day" (2017), Polaroid Land Camera Model 150 (c. 1957), aluminum, wood, acrylic, fluorocarbon mono-filament, 30 x 20.5 x 13 in

“The Big Day” (2017), Polaroid Land Camera Model 150 (c. 1957), aluminum, wood, acrylic, fluorocarbon mono-filament, 30 x 20.5 x 13 in

"The Big Day" (detail) (2017)

“The Big Day” (detail) (2017)

"Keystone K109" (2018), Keystone Regal 8mm Silent Film Projector Model K-109 (c. 1953), wood, latex, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filament, LED lighting, 42 x 30 x 18 in

“Keystone K109” (2018), Keystone Regal 8mm Silent Film Projector Model K-109 (c. 1953), wood, latex, steel & fluorocarbon mono-filament, LED lighting, 42 x 30 x 18 in

"The Big Day" (detail) (2017)

“Keystone K109” (detail) (2018)

"The Big Day" (detail) (2017)

“The Big Day” (detail) (2017)

 

 



Craft

Kernel Panic: New Binary Ceramics Punctuated with Typewriter Keys by Laura C. Hewitt

October 17, 2017

Christopher Jobson

From her small studio in rural Alaska, artist Laura C. Hewitt fuses the technological with the handmade, producing cyberpunk dishware and cyborg decor from wheel-thrown ceramics. A recurring theme in her work are plates, cups, and bowls speckled with 0’s and 1’s formed by vintage alphanumeric and punctuation keys from old typewriters or machinist punches. She often fires the pieces multiple times to enhance the worn appearance of each object, pieces that might look right at home on the desk of H. R. Giger. You can follow her most recent work on Instagram and she has several pieces available on Etsy.

 

 

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