The Friday Morning Listen: Dirtminers – American Typewriter (2007)

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So this Henry Goldcamp guy has come up with the terrific idea of installing typewriters all across his city of St. Louis, with the question posed “What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking?” Residents then type their responses. Goldcamp will then tweet the highlights. It’s a sort of meta-Twitter, with the merging of old and new technologies…and old and new communities.

I absolutely love this. Folks will say that the usage of the typewriter is somehow a commentary on technology in general, or at the very least: nostalgia. In the article on Goldcamp, there’s a quote from Liesel Fenner, who is the public art manager at Americans for the Arts. She speaks of the success of public art being tied to its success in engaging the viewer. This is exactly what the typewriter — now an almost exotic piece of older technology — will do: engage the viewer.

The mashup of old and new appeals to me because, despite this world supposedly being “all-digital,” my own experience is far from that. Sure, a lot of information (and a lot of crap) comes my way via the Internet. But then there are things like the local “shopper” magazine that comes out once per week. In there I’ll find an ad for a holistic medicine-type person who specializes in “ear coning.” Right, so back to the Internet I go to find out what ear coning is all about (not much, as it turns out). But then I’ll stumble onto an article about a particular author, famous in the back to nature movement…and off to the library I go.

All of this reminds me of why I’m attracted to things like the Found Magazine website. Yes, we can (and do) communicate on the Internet, but physical communications can tell a different story. In the case of found objects, the story delivered can end up being interpreted by the viewer. And in that respect, the experience reminds me of poetry. There might have been an intended meaning for a poem, but the reader brings his own view as well.

Great, now I have the urge to go out and buy an old Underwood.

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