Jul 23 2007

A Typewriter Grows in Oz (and plays music)

Published by Brian at 10:04 pm under landscape, contributors, art, poetry, publishing

Andrew Macrae, an Australian writer and artist, wrote to say that although he lives

a long way from the centres of cultural production in the northern hemisphere… maybe there’s something of interest in an antipodean perspective.

Oh my. The man knows how to write a pitch to snare an Irrepressible, no?

Chairman SAndersSo check out his typewriter art (I suspect Photoshop or Illustrator, not an “actual” [or “Real,” as Andrew says below] typewriter, but I could easily be wrong; and don’t get me wrong: I respect and admire mimicry): Acid Head War. The thing that grabs me about Macrae’s pieces is the bridge between the dot matrix and the typewriter. All you can see here is the dot matrix; to get the typewriter detail, you need to visit Acid Head War.

What we’ve got here is the translation of photographs into typewriter art-via an algorithm which offers, I can only imagine, a good deal of user control. (Indeed, I suspect that each character is handpecked, but I’m a Romantic.) I have no idea of how many languages Andrew speaks (other than an obvious fluency with English, that is), but translation–or anyway, the engineer’s strategy of bridging–is clearly a forte. In that regard, check out Ordinary Magic, “the ecstasy of everyday things,” a minimalist WordPress blog in action.

Ordinary Magic does an Ezra Pound thing (which is funny; see below), grabbing the quotidian for alarming or Zen effect. I love that, quite often. So I’m fascinated with this word-a-day-themed blog, which delightfully ties its category tags up in outward facing knots. You’ll need to explore the category links yourself, but here’re some samples of Macrae’s gnomic entries. The word of the day is “Streetlights”:

a line of streetlights, blue and sodium orange.

I like the rhythm, it’s got a downbeat blue note. It riffs on the quotidian and is a refreshing change from the word diarrhea of most blogs. More good stuff, this time the word o the day is “black”: “black and tan,” say now, a hoist to the word, Her Fecundating Self, or “ticket,” as in “discarded ticket.” It’s a throw away world, is it? “First memory,” “new messages,” “old letters”–guess which is the word of the day; all phrases speaking volumes.

The Poundness of all this is the rifling of the everyday for the gnomic effect; Macrae wants the Cantos of the quotidian. And he should have it and, well, I think he does, at times he does, at least. Bloody irrepressible, if you ask me. Lock ‘im up? Hmmm. Maybe needs a few more boxing matches with kangaroos–is that even possible?

Then there’s the music, Andrew and company, and it’s listening to his music that I start to think, goddamn, let a smidgen of art into this information economy thing and we might just have something. Or anyway, I think, Fuck me, I love the rush of a good melody.

If you haven’t heard Luzon’s “Don and Rex,” you’re missing a classic in the vein of Tristeza before and since. Andrew plays well-shaped guitar here in a talented band that features multi-instrumentalist Matthew Cole working a contemplative melody on the windward side and then sawing an extraordinary violin solo through to the end, the altogether-of-which left me in a post-rcck Irish stupor for which I am grateful.

As my friends in Arkansas might say:

Well, shut my mouth.

Not quite. Back to the initial pitch, which, as a Pullman, WA/Mad Ave kinda PR guy fascinated by first impressions kinda guy, kinda fascinated me, here’s something else Andrew said in his first paragraph:

Australia kinda skipped modernity and went straight to postindustrial, where the desert of the real meets the Real of the desert.

I have no idea what that means, but the bits I can make out crack me up and enthrall me. I grew up in the High Mojave, which itself is just a sultry starlet in the greater desert complex of Mexico Amorica (for the free-association challenged, that means you should picture a passionate, Joycean map of Southwest North America, including Mexico, and damn all your peninsulate wars anyway). I’m not trying to out-desert Australia, The Most Ancient and Dry One, just to say I get the drift: the knife of necessity hones its edge against a being’s bones when trekking through the desert. Walk about, y’know? Like in them truckin comix by Crumb or a road movie by Wim Wenders or Roeg’s film Walk About. Could be any place between now and the end of violence.

In the mean time, the everyday song is enough and all.

Makes me think about water and how desert and rising tide are changing the face of Earth. We’ll never see an end to violence with this shit going on: Al Gore is no saint, we have not yet seen a sea change. And the “Real” is a Spanish word for money, coin, royalty, real estate. Skipping: its a rhapsody; over modernity to postindustrial, that’s, well, philosophical. And I confess I’m bedazzled by these many-faceted words that Andrew uses, “modernity” and “postindustrial.” Words to make a country mouse squeak.

Christ, all this and I told Andrew Macrae to be succinct. There’s more. Yet to come.

One Response to “A Typewriter Grows in Oz (and plays music)”

  1. Brianon 25 Nov 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Paul Smith (http://www.paulsmithfoundation.org/) also creates typewriter art and is considered the father of ASCII art (via Boing Boing).

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