Check This Out: Tyree Callahan’s Chromatic Typewriter

I’m right in the middle of Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson. If you’re at all interested in Jobs or in Apple or in the beginning of the age of computers–or pretty much anything really, because Isaacson writes well and is a joy to read–I recommend this book. But this isn’t about the book; this is about something that struck me early on, when Jobs was first described as straddling the line between counter-culture and technology, sort of a Hippie Geek. It sounds like an oxymoron but isn’t: that line he straddled is a very, very thin line, one that’s virtually obscured by one thing: creativity. It’s the thing that erases the line, bridges gaps, crosses back and forth and weaves a web.

Thinking about that is fun, and it’s why I fell in love with this when I first saw it, via a link from Zom Osborne on Facebook:

Chromatic Typewriter by Tyree Callahan

Wow. Never mind that it works (theoretically: each key has to be re-loaded with paint for each keystroke, so it’s not like you would use it for anything lengthy. Not yet.)–never mind that! That’s too much to even contemplate at first: at first, all I could do was stare at the image and think, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” For someone like me who’s a writer first but loves the visual, this image–just the image of the Chromatic Typewriter with a sheet of paper coming out of it–is the visual representation of what we dream of doing: synthesizing words and images so thoroughly that there’s no line between them.

And yet, it *does* work. Yes! You can see it on Tyree’s blog, here. And his website, here (click to enter, click on Portfolio>Objet Trouvé). And then you can google “chromatic typewriter” and see what a bunch of other people have to say about it.

This is the kind of thing that makes me so very happy: knowing there are people out there doing things I haven’t ever even dreamed of. Right this minute! Even as I type this! Which means that, tomorrow, if I’m lucky, I’ll find something brand new, sure. But even more important, it refutes the cliche that there’s nothing new under the sun, that everything cool has already been done. Not true. There are all kinds of things that haven’t been done yet. And they’re out there, floating around as mere wisps of inspiration, waiting for someone–you!–to grab them and run. What are you waiting for?


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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