I once had a friend who thought in numbers. That is, the alphabet A-Z corresponded to numbers 1-26, and each word had a numerical value. A few years down the road, and Washington-based painter Tyree Callahan has brought us a far more fascinating way to interpret the alphabet: through colors. Callahan modified a 1937 Underwood Standard typewriter, replacing the letters and keys with color pads and hued labels to create a functional “painting” device called the Chromatic Typewriter. The result is groundbreaking. The machine itself is a dreamy, luscious blend of rich colors that puts even the most thorough 100+ pack of Crayola colors to shame, while the beautifully blended prints it produces are even more mysterious and expressive.
Callahan describes the work as a ”nexus between visual art and literature… The Chromatic Typewriter again examines the difficulties we face in translating emotions or experiences via the primitive methods of language and alphabets, paint, movement, or sound.” As a conceptual piece, it redefines our means of expressing feeling, emotion, and experiences through mechanical means. Visual literacy, the blend between linguistic, visual, and emotional expression, redefines our means of communication in an alluring, radical way.
The piece has already won Professional Runner Up in the Core 77 Design Awards, and is sure to incite more waves in the months to come.