Date: 2022 Materials: table, books, documents, wood, screws, paper, Selectric typewriter. Exhibition: (s)low art – L’art à l’âge des low-tech, Octopus, Paris, 2023 Thanks to: Alban Faugeroux
The IBM Selectric typewriter is known for its « typeball » with interchangeable fonts. However what makes this machine truly surprising is a small mechanical element called: « whiffletree ». Originally, in the 19th century, the whiffletree was used by farmers for distributing the tractive force in a horse team. This mecanism allowed for exemple to pull a plow with two beasts of different powers. IBM ingeniers used the whiffletree mecanism inside the Selectric typewriter for analogically encoding binary information without using electronic. From a historical point of view, one can consider whiffletree as one of the technical links that made it possible to make the transition between the analog world and the digital world. As we head into a time of widespread shortage, there is a real political interest to make the operation of our old machines legible again.