Writer’s Block

The quick brown fox tries to-


Say something but can’t quite get the-


Words…(((not) (even)) (close)).


Try again to line up-





…Not cut out for-


…means that+

the point?


“Lorem ipsum,” the lazy dog intones, one eye on the pages, blackened and bruised, that litter the floor.



#38 of 52: Mike Alt

Object: A typewriter


Themes explored in this work included;

  • Creative toil; pressing a key on a mechanical typewriter causes a levered ‘hammer’ with a tiny raised letter on it’s surface to strike an inked ribbon against a sheet of paper, leaving an imprint on the sheet. The image of the hammer is symbolic of honest, hard work (it’s most obvious application being the hammer and sickle symbol associated with communism).

The Project 52 tribe introduced some associations – which influenced the thinking and final output. Examples included;

  • Typing pools, images of typewriter keys, technologies that impact society, pass into obsolescence and somehow continue to influence our behaviour. The typewriter is a great example. Typewriters became the dominant item of office equipment and at one point, were the machine used to mass-produce written communication (aside from the printing press). Although they were eventually replaced by computers (except in regions where electricity is unreliable), the keyboard layout and conventions such as the ‘Shift’ key and the ubiquitous “@” symbol live on today in the computer era. This isn’t confined to desktop or laptops either. Think about the keyboard on touch-screen devices – why should they be constrained to a QWERTY keyboard (which as designed to slow the typist because the mechanical typewriters used to jam if too many keys were typed at once).
  • Phrases that are known, relevant and yet meaningless. For example, it’s possible to write ‘typewriter’, using only the top row of keys on a QWERTY keyboard – which is what typewriter salesmen did as a showpiece when selling their speed and efficiency. It’s a word that can be typed with relative ease and speed for someone with limited typing proficiency.
  • The other example is of course, “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” a meaningless sentence, familiar to anyone who has been trained to type. It’s a panagram, which means that it uses every letter in the english alphabet. I always wondered if it had a hidden meaning and learning that it didn’t, decided to give it one.

In the final work, a writer – a quick brown fox, who should just be able to hammer out a work – struggles to produce a work. It’s not coming easily and they’re riddled with self-doubt. It’s also a little ambiguous – maybe it’s against their nature to be cooped up in front of a typewriter (or a computer). The floor is littered with failed attempts. The lazy dog – critic on the sidelines – proffers the opinion that it’s all just ‘lorem ipsum’. Nonsense in other words. Lorem ipsum is used as ‘placeholder text’ in graphic design. It originates from a latin text (by Cicero), meaning roughly “People generally do not toil or pursue activities of hard labour for their own pleasure, although that can occasionally be the case.”

So, you have to ask; is it all nonsense or does any of this mean anything at all?


Project 52

Project52 is a participatory art project that explores intrigue and our relationships with objects and people. Provide a photo of an object. Receive an artwork and 52-word story. Reflect. Playback and share.

The project will culminate in an exhibition, when 52 works are completed.



To participate or if you want to know more, drop a line or contact me via TwitterFacebook or Linkedin.



Check out some of the works.

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