05 Mar - 05 Apr 2008
35 Heddon Street, London W1
Sadie Coles is pleased to present TYPED, an exhibition of works all made on or in close relation to the typewriter. With its roots in a patent from 1714, the typewriter came into its own in the twentieth century as an indispensable tool for businesses and professional writers. A century characterised by a rise in the value of seeing and sight, the proliferation of cinema was one of the leading factors that emphasised the visual sign at the expense of all else, and introduced a radically new syntax. Not only was the word subordinated to the image, but also the way images were linked to words was often innovative and various.
The rise of the typewriter it seems was, in turn, a prelude to visual poetry and the typing machine became a favourite instrument for visual poets, notably in the Calligrammes by Guillaume Apollinaire and the poetry of writers such as E. E. Cummings and Ezra Pound. In the 1950s, the typewriter became a vital tool for the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac typed On The Road on a single roll of paper, while in William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch the machine is personified. Later, with the dematerialisation of the art object in the 1960s, artists adopted systems to organise or expedite their processes and the typewriter served as an ideal device for distancing the artist’s hand.
The artists in TYPED use the typewriter in a myriad of ways. Some use it as a way of investigating language: works by Carl Andre form part of a long history in concrete poetry; Christopher Knowles’ obsessive works on paper using a 1980s electric typewriter involve idiosyncratic linguistics and simple designs; and Sue Tompkins layers and repeats words to sometimes hypnotic effect. Others capitalise on the virtual obsolescence of the tool: Frances Stark’s carbon copies of type by hand inadvertently invite blemish while Janice Kerbel’s love letters pay homage to the Underwood brand of the machine. In other instances the distinctly everyday typewriter font adds prosaic humour as in Lowe and Thomson’s ‘The Harang-Utang Letters 1993-1999’. Meanwhile, Dirk Krecker’s dense, figurative landscapes are like monitors fizzing and whirring, the creations of a techno-dandy. TYPED also includes other works by Richard Prince, Angela Bulloch, Douglas Gordon and Adam McEwen.