Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jeremy Mayer's typewriter art

I am not ready to transform my typewriter into art but Jeremy Mayer has done just that.

"‘Sexy’ 6-Foot Sculpture Nude IV Is Made of Typewriter Parts"


Lewis Wallace

January 31st, 2010


Jeremy Mayer spent more than 1,400 hours at the typewriter in the past year, but he wasn’t banging out a sci-fi novel. Instead, he was building Nude IV, aka Delilah — a 6-foot-tall sculpture made entirely of typewriter parts.

“It took over a year to make and I’ll probably only make a few more in my lifetime,” said Mayer, the 37-year-old artist who lives in Oakland, California. Mayer’s creations have been displayed at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Device Gallery in San Diego and Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums.

Mayer uses vintage typewriters in his intriguing artwork, carefully taking them apart and then recombining the mechanical pieces into anthropomorphic sculptures. Parts from about 50 typewriters went into making Delilah, said Mayer, who took inspiration from a friend’s artwork as well as the Bible when choosing a name for his latest creation.

“I was kind of inspired by my friend Brent Clifford’s paintings of robot women in very sexy reclined poses, and wanted to do sexy without slutty — a pose with strength and dignity but definitely with a sexually charged presence,” he told in an e-mail interview. “So in that vein I named the most recent piece, Nude IV, Delilah. It was not only a meditation on the story of Samson and Delilah, but also named for the woman who modeled for the piece, Delilah Brown.”

The rules: “It took a little over a year (1,400 hours) to make Delilah. I have a couple of rules about my process: I have to use only connections and parts indigenous to the typewriter — no soldering, welding, gluing or wire wrapping is allowed. Second, I try to bend, drill or cut the typewriter components as little as possible. I do cheat a little, but only serious typewriter buffs would be able to tell which parts I’ve modified from their original form. I don’t tap new threads at all.”

Disassembly: “My process involves disassembling typewriters first, which is pretty time-intensive. You can’t really use power tools to do that kind of work because all the screws are slotted, the slots are narrow and the machines are old and require some delicate handling. Beside that, there are a lot of parts and connections in a typewriter. In eight hours I can disassemble two typewriters and categorize, memorize and store their parts in bins and boxes.”

Reassembly: “The reassembly is very time-intensive. For example, to do an arm, I have to figure out first what parts I want to use for the larger pieces that correspond to the humerus, the ulna, radius, digits, deltoid muscle, bicep, etc. Then I have to figure out how to connect them to each other by recognizing existing holes and connections on the pieces and utilizing the myriad other smaller parts (screws, pins, set-pin collars, springs, plates, flanges and such) to fit into those holes and connections.

“When putting a screw in an existing threaded hole, I have to find the right length of screw with the right thread, sorting through hundreds of different kinds of screws. In doing an arm, I’ll go through all of my parts bins and pick out the bigger pieces first, then any of the smaller pieces that I think I may use, then put them all on my bench. It winds up being hundreds of parts by the time I’m done.”

Repetition: “Now imagine I’ve spent, say, 100 hours assembling the first arm. In making that arm I would have to find all of the corresponding symmetrical parts for the other arm, then assemble the other arm the same way, following the same steps in the same order, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. That need of symmetry applies to the whole body, and often requires using two or more of the same typewriter to get it. Since I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I do have some habits and formulas for assembling, but generally every sculpture is very different from the previous one.”

Naming: “Many of them have names because the owners would name them. Usually it was based on brand names or models of typewriters — one was named Mr. Smith, because of the L.C. Smith logo on its chest, and another was named Woody for the Underwood logos all over it. I think the collectors liked to name them because they thought they were imbued with a personality worthy of a name.

“I’ve named the last two myself. Nude III is also called Olympia, because of the Olympia logo on her chest, but also as a sort of homage to the Olympia figure painted by Edouard Manet in 1865.”

Jeremy Mayer - Typewriter Sculpture

1 comment:

Timothy said...

wow....and i left mine in a Mango Grove in was an Underwood...later i was to meet my wife from Underwood....bad omen