Nearly 30 years ago, sculptor Jeremy Mayer disassembled a typewriter. And in doing so, he found a medium that allowed him to express his creativity, as well as his fondness for the vintage machine. Like most people of a certain age, Mayer remembers growing up with a typewriter in the home. As a child, he was fascinated with its design and movement. Now, as an adult, his sculptures—which include an ever-growing series of birds—are aesthetic marvels that make us think about the past and where technology is headed.
Each sculpture is assembled from the parts of different typewriters that Mayer has collected over the past several decades. As he doesn’t use glue or solder pieces together, the sculptures come together using the screws, nuts, and bolts from the typewriter.
“The whole process is kind of like Legos or an Erector set,” he tells My Modern Met. “My studio process is building a huge puzzle with infinite combinations, only using what’s immediately available to me. Building involves a lot of disassembly and then reassembly of the sculpture in progress, as things don’t always hold together or look quite right the first time around. It can be immensely frustrating, but always, ultimately, rewarding.”
From striking ravens that bob their heads to delicate sparrows that can spread their wings, Mayer’s bird sculptures masterfully capture the personality of each animal. After several decades of using typewriters—a choice that was initially sparked by his love of recycling and budget constraints—he continues to be inspired by them. “Choosing this one specific way to make art and foster a relationship to a single machine,” Mayer shares, “has been an ever-changing and rewarding journey.”
Of course, he’s also well aware that some may have mixed reactions to his disassembly of these machines, noting that people often ask the same questions that he did when he took apart his first typewriter. These questions include, “should anyone be doing this with such a utile, beautifully crafted machine that isn’t being built anymore? What about all of the people who typed to each other with this machine? How can [he] destroy a machine that seems to be imbued with a personality? What does this say about our personal relationship to machines, particularly as technology and society advance and evolve?”
But, as Mayer points out, these questions are all around us as we are constantly evolving and pushing the limits of technology. This includes, but isn’t limited to AI, the power of social networking, and programmable DNA.
Mayer asks, “What is a machine? What is life? All of these are questions that I can only answer by doing my work. I don’t have any answers yet, but I always feel like I’m getting closer.”
For more about Mayer’s creative process and love of typewriters, check out the 2016 documentary California Typewriter. And if you are interested in owning a bird sculpture, Mayer is available to give information via Instagram.
For nearly 30 years Jeremy Mayer has been using vintage typewriters to create sculptures.
His work includes an ever-growing series of bird sculptures, some of which move.
To create his sculptures, Mayer dissembles different typewriters and fits the pieces together.
There is no glue or welding involved; everything is held together using only typewriter parts.
“Choosing this one specific way to make art and foster a relationship to a single machine has been an ever-changing and rewarding journey.”
Jeremy Mayer: Website | Instagram
My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jeremy Mayer.
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