This unassuming booth in Tompkins Square Park invites typists to tap away at the keys of a digitally-enhanced typewriter
Social media-crazed society is no doubt used to broadcasting intimate TMIs (Too Much Information) on grocery store runs and breakups, but the upcoming Typewriter Project in New York City's East Village strives to unlock the literary subconscious of the city with a strategically-placed typewriter booth. From June 14 through July 19, visitors to Tompkins Square Park are encouraged to enter the wooden booth and type out a thoughtful stanza or two. Helpfully, the booth looks out onto the Hare Krishna Tree to soothe the mind and jog the conjugation of metaphors. However, the old-school quaintness of the concept belies its technologically-advanced machinations. The Sterling is fitted with a USB kit, and a sensor underneath the innocent-looking typewriter records every keystroke onto an iPad, which is charged by a solar panel on the roof of the booth. New entries will be uploaded online in real time to a dedicated website, while a box into which the typewriter feeds also preserves a hard copy. An attendant mans the booth at all times to explain the operation of a typewriter to the millennial types who have never heard of Paul McCartney nor glimpsed a typewriter. Conceptualized by poets Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski of the Poetry Society of New York, the upcoming East Village installation is the project’s second iteration, with the first having launched last summer outside Building 555 on Governor’s Island, intriguingly named "The Poetry Brothel." Berger, who has resided in the East Village for ten years, rescued a number of landfill-destined typewriters abandoned on the curb. She and Adamski initially earmarked these typewriters for their project, but the cost of repairs outweighed the price of a new typewriter. Experts at Gramercy Office Equipment Co. recommended a sturdy typewriter that could withstand public use. “It’s a much more physically engaging activity than a computer. You have to type harder but not way too hard,” Berger told Bedford and Bowery. Contingent on additional funding, Berger and Adamski plan to install more booths in New York City and eventually spread the idea around the world by turning the booth into an easily replicated kit. To view poetry from the Governor’s Island installation (updated every few months), visit www.subconsciousofthecity.com.