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The Typophonium

Originally developed for Light Night Festival, The Typophonium was not only an interactive audio-visual trigger device, it was also a repository for participants’ thoughts, dreams and aspirations.

Literally speaking, The Typophonium involved a typewriter that was connected via midi trigger, through software to projector and speakers. As the participant typed, triggered musical notes and moving images could be heard and seen: the more the participant typed, the more music and imagery would be generated. Each typewriter would also have an oversized roll of paper to record the participants’ thoughts/musings/gibberish/confessions. Each time we set the apparatus up we would set a new theme for participants to respond to. The two recorded versions of the piece were:

Light Night Festival, St Mary’s Church. Theme: ‘What Gives You Hope?’ Video imagery used was archive film portraits of children from 1930’s midwest USA

The BiroBox Workshops, Malt Cross. Theme: ‘Where Are You Going?’ Video imagery used was assorted found film clips associated with global travel

The aim of the piece was to create a device that would be tangible and pleasurable to use and that would also encourage users into contemplative thoughts that could be a little confessional and yet anonymous enough to be shared without feeling inhibited. What we didn’t expect was how genuine the response was both to the device itself and also to the themes we suggested. Users of all ages strongly responded to the typewriters- they seemed to be exotic and overly complicated machines from a different age of communication and also very familiar due to their universal QWERTY format. The process of converting thoughts, memories, feelings and responses into ink stamped into paper seemed to provide a satisfying extra dimension that perhaps charmed the users into a more positively contemplative and responsive state.

Go to the work section of this website for images and sounds from The Typophonium.

Scroll down to see sections of the typed scrolls from the first incarnation at St Mary’s Church…

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