The Interactive Typewriter (2010)

I developed the interactive typewriter using an old typewriter that my colleague Lucky Leone brought back from Canada. (The typewriter still has a sticker from the "N. Leblanc Équipement de Bureau" company in Longueuil, Québec.) The typewriter is an Optima, made in Germany.

As I re-learned to type on a manual typewriter, I was fascinated by the gestures used in typing: the percussive keystrokes, the carressing carriage returns; the clunky spacebar; the full-body gestures needed for platen adjustment. I attached different sensors to most parts of the typewriter, so that all these gestures could be captured.

In addition, I built a retro-looking control panel to interface with the computer (see photos above and below) and to control the performance configurations. Two PIC microcontrollers inside the control panel handle sensor acquisition and two-way communication between the panel interface and the computer. Sensor data from the typewriter is dealt with in MaxMSP, controlling various synthesis and signal processing routines.

For examples of the interactive typewriter in action see Slim Jim Choker.



control panel prototype detail