In art and literature, commerce and industry the humble typewriter has been a bridge from the 19th to the 20th centuries – the link from the industrial to the information age. An iconic image of the mechanisation of language that paradoxically is an instrument of global commerce – but also a gateway to a world of personal language.
In this first solo exhibition, paired with poetry by regarded modern and living Chinese poets, the young Shenyang-based painter Wang Yufeng addresses questions of personal language and relatedness versus disconnect from the fruits of our dexterity in works that explore ‘a technological mode of Being’ (Heidegger). Presenting the viewer with an evolution of devices, Yufeng’s work captures the essence of pre-modern, traditional artisanship on the cusp of a gentle, quietly manageable technological revolution in the form of the typewriter.
At root, the typewriter was the last vestige of the personalized and individual relationship with language. In the networked world of twittering facebooks and rampant blogs of endless inanity and unlimited content, the ability of our species to edit, flter, ponder and discern is bastardized in superfuity.
As icon, the aesthetic of the typewriter might give us pause to gaze at a passing generation, even civilisation, before the tidal wave of the digital era. Wang Yufeng’s work places the typewriter at the vortex of remembered imagery, defying the notion of this tool is the discarded ‘ornament’, as the artist calls it, of the pre-information era.
The physical connectedness to the typewriter as tool and object in its interface with the written word as opposed to the virtual connectedness of the PC and smartphone to the slippery word-processed word – utterly different in experience and outcome.
– Dr D. Gilhooly