Textension was a collection of 10 interactive experiments in making creative variations of word processing applications. It was my response as an artist to the way programmers always use the typewriter metaphor when they are creating a typesetting application. Textension combines the metaphor of the typewriter with that of other things in the physical world - in the below picture, it is the act of blowing soap bubbles.


Textension is a series of ten interactive typing expressions. Its goal is to explore metaphors and aesthetics used for designing automated typesetting process on the personal computer beyond the traditional convention of typewriting. Each of the ten pieces is a typing experience, a text entry context into which the viewer types characters.

When I was younger I used to love writing notes to people on unusual surfaces and materials. I altered as much as I could about my writing to fit my expression. A girl once gave me a birthday greeting written on a piece of driftwood. I once wrote a long letter on a skinny strip of paper several yards in length. When my mother brought a typewriter home, I enjoyed experimenting with typing upside down and ontop of other letters by pushing the paper around with my fingers. I tried different papers and I inserted small pieces of metal near the ink ribbon to alter the effects of the typed letters. Knowing that I had creative freedom to play with the placement of letters beyond what I saw in magazines excited me. I think opportunities to play with type informally as one would in other contexts are seriously lacking in the modern digital world.

Early computer text was typewriting on paper. When computers started using screens, the text still remained loyal to the same behavior. Today's graphical interfaces are built with text field capabilities, so that all text entry experiences are consistent, legible, and clean. The computer is just one big collection of little typewriting moments. So where is the fun in all this? Sure, to be legible, clean, and typewriter-like is standard and practical, but do we want our text to be this way for the rest of time? Will we always alter our expression to fit a restricting medium by inventing such things as punctuation smiley faces in a world limited by the number of currently available fonts? In a world of standards, convention, compatibility, and efficiency, perhaps yes - but why force the rest of digital human communication to surrender to such dry automated typesetting after computers have long outgrown the need to stay loyal to the rules of the printing press?

I created these ten pieces in response to a world of such dry computer word processing. My goal is to inspire a more imaginative exploitation of the unique capability of computers - creating expressive typing experiences otherwise inefficient to implement, or physically impossible.

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