There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

— Ernest Hemingway

Imagine –way back before iPads, etc–you could have cringed at the thought of  a journalist, or a writer,  taking the seat next  to you on a flight cross-country or cross-Atlantic. The tap-tap-clack-bing of their pesky portable inches from your elbow? Those sturdy little travel typewriters  were about half the size of the then normal desktop typewriters and the cover was built right into the case: a sort all-in-one  computer and printer.

PROCESS IMAGE: Using the guts of a typewriter inside a body-torso based sculpture
PROCESS IMAGE: Using the guts of a typewriter inside a body-torso based sculpture

Right now I am working on a body-based sculpture with a typewriter inside. It’s in process. The material is cartapesta, my usual. I’ve bent and curved the torso a bit like a DNA model.  In the inside space–the internal world–I am placing the type bar from a gutted an old portable typewriter. It’s attached to the belly region–guts-to-guts.

Intention: to use the typewriter both as a reaction to computer and speedy printing, and also to a visceral element; a counter measure to the ethereal nature of words floating around in internet space and the accusations that these words cannot be real.

The Smith-Corona guts  I am using has had an interesting life. The typewriter came to me in Pittsburgh and moved with me to Baltimore, Maine and finally to New York City. I used it to write stories–mostly about film and video– up until the late 80s. In 1990, I lent it  to my friend photographer Susan May Tell, who was stationed in Cairo working for Agence France-Presse at the time. With her the same typewriter journeyed to Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Paris.

When she returned from her job in the Mideast, Susan put the writing machine in her downtown NYC storage space,  where it rested from late 90s to 2008. Eventually I reclaimed it and brought it home to Cambridge, where it sat around under my desk for another decade.

Now the parts are making sculpture, commenting, I hope, on the state of journalism, on the internet, on our own internal dialogue, memories and rhythms and reality.