KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Students, staff and faculty at Kansas City Kansas Community College had the opportunity Thursday morning to meet and observe Los Angeles-based performance artist Tim Youd as he continues to work on his series of art pieces known as the Typewriter Series.
“The basic idea of the project is that he is travelling around to where these novels are set, and he is retyping them. But he is retyping them on one page,” said Michael Pettengell, professor of English at KCKCC. “The finished product is one page, and then one page behind it. Those two pages become the piece of art that is displayed. Not the normal art piece you and I are used to. It’s not a painting on the wall. This is something a little different.”
This doubled paper gets run through the typewriter repeatedly until the entire novel is retyped.
Once finished, the two pages, which reflect a positive and negative image, are mounted as a diptych. A diptych can be any object with two flat plates attached with a hinge such as an opened notebook.
“It’s not just a picture of the house, but it’s the composition,” Youd said during his visit to KCKCC. “For me, that composition became attractive when I thought about putting all the words on one page. And when I thought about it, if I am going to put all the words on one page then I should use the typewriter to do it because I am looking at something that’s been type set versus writing it out long hand over and over. That didn’t fill as connective to the book itself. And if I am going to sit down at a typewriter, then I am going to use the same kind of typewriter the author used.”
Each performance piece is done in the place where the novel is located or in a location that is somehow connected to the author or events of the novel. Youd is in Kansas City working on “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge,” by Kansas City-native Evan S. Connell. Both books are set in Kansas City and were made into the movie, “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
In this performance piece, he is using an Olympia SM3 to retype each novel, the same make and model used by Connell, who passed away in 2013. He said to find out what kind of typewriter the author used, he has to sometimes do extensive research including talking to scholars and using the Internet.
Since Youd started the series, he has finished 31 novels including Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Capricorn,” written in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Charles Bukowski’s “Post Office,” completed in the parking lot of the Terminal Annex Post Office in Los Angeles, Calif.; Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slapstick,” completed at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, Ind.; Ernest Hemmingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” completed at the Hemingway-Pfeffer Museum in Piggott, Ark. and William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” completed at Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss. His plan is to complete 100 novels, which Youd estimates will take about 10 years.
Tim Youd: Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, has been organized by the H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute. He completed Mrs. Bridge while at the Artspace and will be at the Central Library of the Kansas City Public Library, 14 W. 10th St. in Kansas City, through Feb. 23 working on “Mr. Bridge.”
His next scheduled performance will take him to England for six weeks where he will be working on novels by Virginia Woolf, Anthony Burgess and Kingsley Amis. He will then spend the summer in California working on four novels including Jack Kerouac’s “Big Sur.”
For more information on Tim Youd, his typewriter series and his other art pieces, visit timyoud.com.