AUTOMATON WRITING

one evening i was walking along hollywood boulevard, nothing much to do. i stopped and looked in the window of a stationery shop.

a mechanized pen was suspended in space in such a way that, as a mechanized roll of paper passed by it, the pen went through the motions of the same penmanship exercises i had learned as a child in the third grade.

centrally placed in the window was an advertisement explaining
the mechanical reasons for the perfection of the operation of the suspended mechanical pen.

i was fascinated, for everything was going wrong.
the pen was tearing the paper to shreds and splattering ink all over the window and on the advertisement, which, nevertheless, remained legible.
--john cage, from his "lecture on nothing" included in his book silence and recorded with david tudor for the album indeterminacy on smithsonian folkways.

an antiquated school desk chair fitted with a machine
that cranks out the signature of the artist.
signature chair by tim hawkinson


"the writer" -pierre jaquet-droz's automaton built between 1768 and 1774.