About this project
Thank you for the outpouring of support! $5000 was the bare minimum we needed to complete this project, and it seems likely that we will reach that goal. But there is much more we can do to make this project amazing - so we are setting stretch goals to help us make this project even better!
Stretch Goal #1: $6000 ($1000 over our funding level). An artist who is a professional frame restorer at a major Boston museum has joined our team and is going to recreate the gold leaf shown in the image below! Even if we don't use real gold, metal leaf is expensive and we will need additional supplies. Help us make this machine even more beautiful!
Stretch Goal #2: $8000 ($3000 over funding level) - a projector and electronics upgrade! Illuminating a 9'x16' screen takes some serious lumens. Meeting this goal will help us beef up our electronics and buy a stronger projector with a better lens so our projections will really pop.
Original story below:
Our project is inspired by the nearly 100-year old story of Archy and Mehitabel. Archy was a free verse poet reincarnated in the body of a cockroach, and Mehitabel was the alley cat who was his freewheeling companion. The story was originally run in the NY Sun as a column by Don Marquis. Each night, Marquis would leave a sheet of paper in his typewriter and Archy would laboriously hop from key to key typing out a poem or a story from his or Mehitabel's daily adventures.
The newspaper column was hugely successful and eventually led to a series of books, a broadway musical, an animated film, and even a 1970s folk song. Today, the memory of Archy and Mehitabel has largely faded from American pop culture, but the essence of Archy - his burning need to create and share, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles - still rings true. Just as importantly, his ruminations on human nature, on the nature of creativity, and the follies of politics also stand the test of time.
In homage to Archy and Mehitabel, we are creating a giant 24:1 scale replica of a 1920's era Underwood Standard Portable typewriter. At this scale, people will be the size of cockroaches and we will need to jump from key to key to type out each line. Each day, we will place a new poem in the paper tray, printed beforehand on 16' wide vinyl billboard. Some of these poems will be by Archy, others will be new work created especially for the event. The project will displayed at FIGMENT Boston July 25-26 and at Burning Man August 30-September 5.
At night, the sculpture will transform into a working keyboard, with the poems replaced by a projection screen. As people move around the luminous keyboard, their letter presses will be projected onto the screen. Their words will be writ large on the paper, and only through collaboration will they be able to achieve capital letters and special symbols, niceties unavailable to poor Archy.
This project excites us not only for the sheer scale of building such a monumental device, but for the reaction that typewriters engender in people. The typewriter is quite literally a blank slate for anyone to project their words. It is a device of such universality that it needs no explanation, and it ties together our favorite elements of public art: spontaneous creative expression, collaboration, whimsy, and just a hint of danger.
Building a project of this scale and shipping it from Boston to Nevada and back is no easy feat. Our budget includes:
- Typewriter Structure $5,500
- Shade/Deco $1,900
- Poems $3,600
- Electric/Lighting $8,100
- Transportation $9,500
- Grand total $28,600
We have raised over $20,000 so far, including a generous grant from Burning Man, but we still need your help to get us the rest of the way there.
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
We have the basic structure nearly complete but we still have to design the projection screen mount and complete the design of the keyboard and interface. The larger challenges will be in shipping the piece and assembling it on playa.
To ensure that the project will be successful no matter what, we have devised a number of backup plans. These include shipping alternate keyboards in case there is a fault with the sensors in the big keyboard, shipping out extra lumber to make any necessary repairs or adjustments to the structure, and bringing out oodles of spares. We also have backup plans to hand-letter the poems in case our giant letterpress doesn't work out.
No matter what happens, we'll make sure this typewriter gets built for Burning Man!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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