Toronto specializing in contemporary photography

Folds and Études

Folds and Études

Artist Statement

Folds and Études are images derived from anonymous typing exercises that I found in a used copy of “Touch Typing Made Simple”. The title, Études, refers to the musical tradition of studies for a solo instrument. In this case, the solo instrument is a typewriter. This musical analogy appears in the opening sentences of the book on typing technique:

The physical action of typing is one that can be easily learned. If you play the piano or any musical instrument on which you depress keys or strings individually, you already know a basic technique of touch typing. If not, it helps to exercise the fingers of both hands by pretending to play a piano.

Typing exercises are repetitive attempts to type words and phrases rapidly and without error. Typing proficiency is calculated by speed and accuracy. It is a measure of our embodied interaction with writing machines. The medley of words on each page of the Études however, reveal slips and mistakes, commonly referred to as “typos”, that have an intriguing and somewhat absurd effect on the language and signification that fills each page. The contrast between proficiency and nonsense has a historical relation to parapraxis, slips of the tongue, and information theory where the intention to restrict error and miscalculation in signals and transmissions is accompanied by noise, or the existence of superfluous information.

The relationship between information as interference, noise, and sound is revealed during attempts to read the Études aloud. The mistakes of the keyboard encourage further slippage in the voice. The pages of Études are accompanied by a polyphonic audio recording of the spoken texts.

Folds are studies of the Études. The crumpled balls of paper playfully mimic the stereotype of the frustrated author. These objects fold the nonsensical texts of the typing exercises in temporal and spatial representations of non-linear complexity. Words and phrases intercept and interact through connections and boundaries in unpredictable ways. The outcome is more noise.

The shape of the creased paper evokes the touch of human hands. The sense of touch used to type letters onto the page is recalled in the arbitrary shapes and lines throughout the surfaces of the paper. The Folds are topological explorations of typographic error organized according to typological tables of presentation.



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Robert Bean: Striking Type, at ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst Medialounge in Karlsruhe, Germany, 2015.
Robert Bean: Metamorphosis, at Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, January 2007. Curated by Scott McLeod.