St. Louis Artist Installs Typewriters Around The City

Residents can type whatever they're thinking, part of one artist's effort to define the city by its people

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Using an old-fashioned method to collect modern-day thoughts, 25-year-old Henry Goldkamp is asking “What The Hell Is St. Louis Thinking?”

The artist, who works construction by day, placed typewriters at schools, parks, record shops and even homes throughout St. Louis in an effort to collect the thoughts and feelings of his city’s dwellers. The idea was hatched from a previous project in which Goldkamp would set up shop at different locales around St. Louis and type out stories or poems for people walking by.

But the artist soon realized that people are best at conveying their own thoughts, and launched the typewriter installation project last month. Residents are invited to share heartache, humor and reflection, and then leave their masterpiece in a slot on a podium, where the typewriter rests. The artist is aiming to create a book authored by the city itself.

“I love this city,” he told KSDK. “It’s teeming with beauty and talent and I think it’s about to burst open. I would like to serve as a catalyst to this.”

While some say Goldkamp’s project is commentary on our technology-obsessed culture, Goldkamp maintained it’s about defining a city through its people. The nostalgic process has proved to be tricky for some. As NPR reports, residents unfamiliar with the antiquated machine found typing difficult.

“It’s not as personal as writing it down with a pencil and paper,” Nick Goldschmidt, 17, told NPR. “But it kind of makes you work for it, because you have to punch in the freaking keys because, you know, it’s hard. Definitely more personal than, you know, a computer.”

Indeed, there’s no erasing in using a typewriter, leaving indelible thoughts that Goldkamp hopes will help answer his question. 

The project is expected to last throughout September.

MORE: Gadgets Then and Now: Typewriters