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Art Installation Highlights Vintage Typewriter

Michael Spooneybarger/ DRSI
English professor Dr. Robin Blyn explains the typewriter to senior English major Kailyn Adams at "The Typewriter Project: Subconscious of the City,” in the John C. Pace Library Monday February 5, 2018 at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL";

The loud clacking of keystrokes and the ding of a carriage return are sounds mostly unfamiliar to anyone under the age of 30.

However, UWF students and the Pensacola community are getting a chance to either learn about or get reacquainted with the typewriter through a program called “The Typewriter Project: Subconscious of the City.

The art installation, which was created by The Poetry Society of New York and is now at the John C, Pace Library, contains a vintage typewriter, a 100-foot scroll of paper, as well as a USB kit that enables each keystroke to be published to a website.  

The Typewriter Project was brought to UWF with the help of Dr. Robin Blyn, an English professor at the University. She said the project was inspired by the Exquisite Corpse, a surrealist writing game where a variety of authors contributed to one poem.

Since the Typewriter Project has been in Pensacola, Blyn said people type on the device have offered up a wide variety of contributions.

“Some people write poetry. Some people just write what they are thinking. Some people just play with the typewriter,” Blyn said. “So, there’s a variety. Sometimes people respond to one another, which is what you would do in the old Exquisite Corpse.”

Abiding by the rules of the New York artists who created the Typewriter Project, Blyn said she doesn’t edit or proofread the submissions, and only corrects the occasional keystroke errors.

Matthew Hanimov, a junior at UWF, who is a creative writing major, has monitored the booth while it’s been on campus. He’s also submitted several works of his own.

“Sometimes, I’ll just start writing what I’m feeling, or I’ll go off what other people are writing,” Hanimov said. “So, for me, it’s just a medium through which I can express myself without having really to think beforehand. I write poetry, and a lot of times, I have to have an idea. And, with this, I’ll just see a word and I’ll go with it.

The clicking and clacking is great. It sounds so wonderful, and the bell at the end is wonderful, too,” Hanimov added.  

Blyn said students like Hanimov who have monitored the booth develop relationships with the people who use the typewriter and become involved a collective creative process.

“The idea is really to create this kind of public space and in that process to create a community,” Blyn said. “The project comes out of this idea really for me that the state of public discourse in this country is not very healthy at all. And, we certainly don’t get any pointers from our politicians.”

The Typewriter Project will be at the John C. Pace Library until Feb. 16. To view the contributions to the project since it’s been in Pensacola, visit the website subconsciousofthecity.com.