Almost 30 years ago, sculptor Jeremy Mayer disassembled a typewriter. And in doing so, he found a medium that allows him to express his creativity and love for the vintage machine. Like most people of a certain age, Mayer recalls growing up with a typewriter in the home. As a child he was fascinated by its design and movement. Now, as an adult, his sculptures – including an ever-growing array of birds – are aesthetic marvels that make us reflect on the past and make us contemplate the evolution of technology.
Each sculpture is composed of parts from various typewriters that Mayer has collected over the past few decades. Because he doesn’t use any glue or solder parts, the sculptures come together with the typewriter’s screws, nuts, and bolts.
“The whole process is sort of like Lego or an Erector set,” he tells My Modern Met. “My studio process is to build a giant puzzle with infinite combinations using only what’s immediately available to me . Building requires a lot of disassembly and then reassembling the ongoing sculpture as things don’t always hold together or look quite right the first time. It can be very frustrating, but always ultimately rewarding.”
From striking ravens that wag their heads to delicate sparrows that can spread their wings, Mayer’s bird sculptures masterfully capture each animal’s personality. Having used typewriters for several decades – a decision initially prompted by his love of recycling and budget constraints – he continues to draw inspiration from them. “Choosing this one specific path to make art and nurture a relationship with a single machine,” says Mayer, “has been an ever-changing and rewarding journey.”
Of course, he’s also aware that some might have mixed reactions to his disassembly of these machines, noting that people often ask the same questions he did when he disassembled his first typewriter. These questions include: “Should anyone do this to a useful, beautifully crafted machine that is no longer made? What about all the people who used this machine to type with each other? How can [he] destroy a machine that seems imbued with a personality? What does this say about our personal relationship with machines, especially as technology and society advance and evolve?”
But as Mayer points out, these questions surround us everywhere as we constantly evolve and push the boundaries of technology. These include AI, the power of social networks and programmable DNA.
Mayer asks: “What is a machine? what is life These are all questions that I can only answer through my work. I don’t have any answers yet, but I always feel like I’m getting closer.”
For more on Mayer’s creative process and his love for typewriters, check out the 2016 documentary California typewriter. And if you are interested in owning a bird sculpture, Mayer is available for information via Instagram.
For nearly 30 years, Jeremy Mayer has used vintage typewriters to create sculptures.
His work includes an ever-growing series of bird sculptures, some of which are moving.
For his sculptures, Mayer dismantles various typewriters and puts the parts together.
No gluing or welding is required; Everything is held together only with typewriter parts.
“Choosing this one specific way of making art and nurturing a relationship with a single machine has been an ever-changing and rewarding journey.”
Jeremy Mayer: Website | Instagram
My Modern Met has given permission to feature photos of Jeremy Mayer.
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