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Keystrokes/Brushstrokes

December 13, 2011

I’m about to simultaneously blow your mind and reestablish my cred after my last ANTM-heavy post.  These paintings:

were made with a typewriter. Artist, Tyree Callahan, reconfigured a 1937 typewriter into a new way to create paintings. He attached a sponge soaked in paint to the end of each key, and painted the top of the key with the corresponding color, and then types out his work. 

It’s a genius idea, and one of the most innovative techniques I’ve ever seen. I’ve been waiting to find an artist in my lifetime that I’ve found exciting, with potential to be The Name of my generation. Sure, that’s investing a lot in this very recent discovery, and could be considered a disproportionate response, but for someone who enjoys art, I find it upsetting that I don’t have a favorite contemporary artist. There are plenty of artists and art that I enjoy, but with the exception of the evolution of street art, there really hasn’t been anyone doing anything new that I’ve found to be both interesting and talented. I grow tired of artists who try to be weird or edgy just for the sake of being weird or edgy, or where it seems too obvious that the motivation behind the creation of the piece is solely attempting to be something inventive. I find Callahan’s pieces moving and beautiful in and of themselves, and they only become more intriguing once I know how they were created. Their medium isn’t the sole reason they’re alluring, which along with shock value seems to be the main driving force behind the art scene these days. So, here’s hoping that Callahan won’t fade into obscurity. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens with him next.

AMENDMENT: I contacted Callahan for an interview, and I wanted to share his response because it turns out there has been a misinterpretation:

I’d be happy to answer your questions and participate in any way you feel is meaningful.  I need to clarify immediately, however, that the typewriter is a conceptual piece.  It is not used for painting.  It did not create the paintings at tyreecallahan.com.  My brushes did!  Feel free to kick me in the shins.  Seems that since the thing hit the Make Magazine blog, everyone who has re-blogged since has the idea that it actually paints.  I can’t figure out whether to laugh or to cry.  Mostly it’s due to the excitement, I think, that the piece has generated.  The feedback has been amazing.  It has definitely captured people’s imaginations!

The idea for the typewriter came about when I was in the studio struggling with a watercolor.  When I finally got the painting to a point where I was happy with it, I ran it through an older Olivetti typewriter I keep around the studio to type a poem onto the painting.  While I was typing away, the inspiration for the Chromatic Typewriter hit me like a ton of bricks.  IT HAD TO BE BUILT.  It is one of my entries to the West Prize.  I have submitted paintings, too, but people seem to like the typewriter more.  It’s stuck in 11th place at the moment.  You can view the “top dogs” here:

http://westcollects.com/westCollection/top_dogs

It is hard to compete with well-known artists with HUGE followings.  I am a nobody in the art world.  In that respect, I’m glad it is doing as well as it is.

It took a while to find a typewriter that fit my vision.  I have a ‘note’ on my Facebook page that explains how the thing came about.  https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=276135745766868

It would be totally amazing if that thing could produce those paintings!  As I was painting the keys I did manage to try it out.  How could I not?  I typed up a short paragraph before the paint ran out.  That is all there is.

I actually had a moment of doubt while researching this, but I totally glossed over it with a simple preference to believe my original assumption. However, I still love both his typewriter creation and his paintings, so the interview will still be done. Stay tuned…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 13, 2011 7:32 am

    yes.

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