@ Kanya Project | PLUG-N-PLAY & EIGEN + ART LAB, Berlin

The technical term ‘Not a typewriter’ is an error code used by early days Unix operating systems to indicate an invalid input\output. Unlike the algorithm, a human observer is likely to seek patterns and meanings within an invalid input, a representation or a visual code. On the other hand, when being overflowed by massive amounts of data, how many of these inputs pass one’s attention filter, to begin with?

At the center of the exhibition stands a large painting machine, titled ‘Not a Typewriter’, drawing continuous calligraphic visual codes from digital texts. Mechanical calligraphic brushstrokes draw the textual information, creating two-dimensional geometric encryptions. The texts are mapped into visuals using mapping and coding systems created by Segal. The character sequences are first represented by numerical values (ASCII). These numbers are then mapped to coordinates according to predefined sets of rules and fed as inputs to the machine affecting its motions. The resulting encoded images are unreadable to the human viewer but contain all the textual information summed onto permanent ink-on-paper drawings that are then hanged for display.

A second machine, ‘Typewriter 2.0’, shows temporary glimpses of texts that appear and disappear in front of the observers’ eyes. The machine prints the texts using a material that reacts to UV exposure by temporarily changing its color. This machine-invoked change is ephemeral and the texts fade in seconds, allowing new texts to appear. While this machine shows the text in a readable format, one must have the patience to observe it along time in order to actually read and absorb it.

The inputs to the machines are computer-generated texts. Fake articles are created automatically via an iterative process of combinations, mutations, and manipulations of multiple online sources. These textual ‘ready-mades’ are stitched together contextually into semi-coherent articles and fed into the machines. The texts are sometimes strange and even alienating. The machines, which are the opposite of ready-made, add mechanical noise and irregularities to the resulting images. In these nonverbal glitches, the human observer may find communication and patterns too.

“This Is Not a Typewriter” was created during Axel Springer PLUG-N-PLAY artist in residence program, in collaboration with EIGEN + ART LAB Berlin, Fall 2016.


Wrote about the exhibition: