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Typewriters Morph Into Creepy Sci-Fi Creatures

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Old 09-02-2008
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Typewriters Morph Into Creepy Sci-Fi Creatures
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Jeremy Mayer collects antique typewriters, but he doesn't display them in a curio cabinet. Instead, he tears them apart, then turns the components into sleek, sci-fi-inspired bugs, skeletons and anatomically correct human figures.
Mayer, who describes his work as a cross between Leonardo da Vinci's mechanical drawings and the gritty futures imagined by sci-fi maestros William Gibson and Philip K. ****, assembles his artwork without welding, soldering or gluing.
Left: It takes roughly 40 typewriters and 1,000 hours for Mayer to assemble a full-scale figurine like this reclining female form. He's made only three full-size human figures over the last 14 years, but as he prepares for a spring show in San Diego, he'll construct four in 2008.
"I'd been trying to get my figures to look less creepy," said Mayer. "This one has so much personality and presence, which helps."
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Mayer put together this metallic bust for a 2005 art show in the Seattle area. To fashion the hair, he fitted multiple typebars onto the mechanical cranium and pulled out the innards of a machine to create steel skin.
Later, Mayer realized he created the head in his likeness. "He's somewhat of a broken-looking character," said Mayer. "And somehow it looks exactly like me. I hope to do more of them."
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Mayer's creations, like this skeletal aluminum framework, can stand close to seven feet tall and often weigh between 60 and 100 pounds.
"I didn't make him anatomically correct, because I thought people would freak out about a robot with a *****," said Mayer. Now he's ready to go further with this piece, which he finished in 1994.
"I may retrofit it," said the artist, who often travels to homes where his artwork is displayed to tweak the designs.
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Although perfecting steely skeletons is Mayer's main building obsession, he also likes to assemble macabre felines. He estimates that he's made about 14 of them -- and they are always popular with buyers.
"All you have to do is look at StumbleUpon and see how much people on the internet love cats," said Mayer. They tend to stand about two feet tall.
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer "I'm not going for whimsy," said Mayer, who experimented with a series of machine masks like this one for a show. "So I will probably never do a set [of the masks] again." Still, Mayer says he enjoys toying around with spare parts that don't end up in one of his massive pieces.
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer To create his mecha-cricket, Mayer fashioned the guts of a Royal typewriter into the abdomen and thorax. In order to keep the body color uniform, he salvaged similar pieces from the typewriter graveyard in his studio.
The legs are bent keys, and the head was made from a dismantled rubber pad. The insect measures about 18 inches long, from its spindly legs to the tips of its antennae.
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer This standing humanoid was commissioned by a Star Trek fanatic and friend of Mayer's who wanted a sculpture with robotic capabilities and trolled eBay for parts.
Mayer installed a Handy Board processor in the chest cavity and rigged it to a motion sensor and controls that cause the head to wiggle and the eyes to blink.
"The actual mechanics work really well," said Mayer.
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Mayer often takes inspiration from the shape of the typewriter itself to mold his figures. He prefers to dismantle Royal Safari typewriters for his female creations, using the parts for the inner thighs, labia and breasts.
"That's how the typewriter was made in the first place," said Mayer. "The shape resembles the human body and forms of nature."
: Photos courtesy Jeremy Mayer Mayer, 36, crafts his typewriter creations in this studio in Tahoe City, California.
He scours flea markets and second-hand stores weekly for vintage versions of the original word processor. After breaking the machines down by hand, Mayer spends hours categorizing the parts.


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