Development: Audio and the Typewriter

Our long line of ideas has been developed and whittled down to just three sections. We had obviously decided on constructing a document which recognised the conversation within the library in one whole day and we had solidified our idea of projection onto the library’s exterior. Mutually we agreed on a final performance piece to bind the whole project together. We decided that we had all enjoyed the use of audio however we wanted to find something quite subtle to fit the last section of our performance. We became certain of the sound of a pulsing heart beat, slowly palpitating and eventually quickening its pace so that by the end of the performance it was a normal beating heart. This audio piece would be situated in the foyer of the library so that when people enter they will hear the beating but not so obviously. ‘To produce and receive sound is to be involved in connections that make privacy intensely public and public appearance distinctly personal.’1 Since the library is a public yet very private place, the use of sound, even subtly the beating of a heart will invade the public’s privacy resulting in something personal.

Another development towards the first section concerning documentation of conversation is the idea of using classic typewriters to document. The outcome would be hundreds of paper copies of information that we plan to bind together at the end of the process and place them onto their own shelf in the library, overall, documenting a full day in the Library. Using a typewriter and not a computer or writing manually makes a difference to the project as we want to show how generally we document the past, but what occurs inside the library is unobserved. Also, using a typewriter means that if any mistakes are made, they cannot be undone. On a bigger perspective, life is similar to the typewriter in the sense that when errors arise they cannot be changed, only established and dismissed. Not only had the typewriter a specific and distinctive sound when in use, we had recognised that when the Lincoln Library came into play, it was around the year of 1920 and so the typewriter would have been in full use back then. It has been said that ‘the clacking of the keys, though disturbing to some, helps him get into a rhythm of creation’2 which is one main reason why we think the typewriter is a beautiful element of our performance. It also ‘produces neat and legible writing’3 which is perfect for our document as we want it to be clear and comprehensible.

To receive the conversation in order to document it, we figured that we would have to listen to conversation all over the library to report back to type. The easiest way of doing so would be to split our group of four into two pairs where one pair would type while the other pair would be exploring the library for conversation. Instead of writing down what is heard ready to report back to the typists, it would be more efficient if we were able to get use of audio cans. We could all wear one each so that once the conversation explorer hears anything at all regarding speech they can talk it through to the typist who can type as instantly as she hears. An advantage of the typewriter is that the document will be printed as soon as the page is full of text ‘unlike computers which must be connected to a printer and only prints the project once it is completed.’4 Therefore it is a quicker process and there will be no need to wait around at the end of the project for print outs.

By creating something quite private within a building like the library we are showing ‘the public to be inside a brain in action.’5 By using sound, projection and manual documents, we feel we are uniting people in one building by creating something that they are participating in without even knowing it, which is really quite beautiful.

  1. Lebelle, Brandon. P.IX []
  2. [accessed on: 19th March 19, 2013] []
  3. [accessed on: 19th March 2013] []
  4. [accessed on: 19th March 19, 2013] []
  5. Hirschhorn, Thomas in Claire Bishop. Participation, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006) P. 6 []
Posted: April 1st, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Early Research, Library, Performance Art
Comments: 1 Comment.
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