Like many of us I've got a soft spot for vintage objects that actually do something, and I don't mind being advertised to when the delivery vehicle is as cool as this. Levis' "Make Our Mark" campaign involves four objects from the 20th Century, repurposed for our modern times with a little connective technology.
They've hacked a 1956 Gibson ES-125 guitar with an uplink to online audio distribution platform Soundcloud:
A 1939 Graflex Speed Graphic camera that uploads still shots to Instagram:
A 1953 Bolex B-8 movie camera hooked up to Instagram video:
And last but not least, a 1901 Underwood No. 5 typewriter connected to, of course, Twitter.
Check out the bad-ass Nixie tube character counter they've hooked up to the typewriter.
So what are they gonna do with all of this stuff? Apparently the plan is to traverse the U.S. by train—another vintage technology--and let travelers use the objects to create some on-the-fly art. [Ed. Note: It's part of a larger multimedia project, by artist Doug Aitken, is called Station to Station.] But if you ask me, I think they oughta start mass manufacturing, or mass repurposing, these things. I bet they'd sell like hotcakes.
Obligatory promo vid:
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There was an 80 year old man that was very into antiques on the train in Barstow. He had never used social media. But more importantly, was a loner. He sat down on the typewriter and sent his first message out. Within moments, he had hundreds of responses. I have never seen someone light up light that. But more importantly- he was the only one that really new how to work the typewriter at all- hah.
Old tech like that is going to get lost soon to dust in the back of a museum basement. I for one and fine putting a micro-controller in them, if it will keep them in the hands of old and young creators- and out of the dust.
On the other hand, while I'm distressed to see Bolex engineering gutted for this project, I remember waiting days or weeks for 8mm film to be developed. The ability to instantly capture and distribute to the masses is wondrous, even through filters aping operator error.
Repurposing technology is an interesting concept, but do we really need a typewriter that types messages to twitter? I can imagine that a majority of the messages coming out of the typewriter would be "Lol k I'm typing this on a typewriter", which, I mean, how many times can you post a status like that before it just get's old (Which in itself is ironic, considering that the technology being used to make it would be old itself).
We don't need another set of objects that can connect us to the 'cloud' of social media; I'm sort of sad they didn't take these items and try to re-purpose them in a more beneficial way.
It seems like a waste to make objects that connect to trending Social media - especially such social media that will (probably) not hold up to face-book in the future, at worst, and at best, be something people do to mindlessly gobble up their time.
The only 'project' here that really makes sense is the Soundcloud guitar, but even that itself seems like playful technology, instead of serious technology. I'm going to hate it if things like this get's mass produced and I'm just going to start hearing guitar rifts populate the site that's meant for full length edited and mixed songs.
That being said, I could be just a internet troll who has way too much time;
These are Good ideas, I just think that the technology and time putting into these ideas kill it for me. Old Tech is old Tech for a reason - It was beaten out by new tech that has new aesthetics, functions, and does things better then what old tech does. It just seems terribly mauling of the old Tech that People collect for the reasons of connecting to the past.
Phone: "Man I just made this awesome typewriter that connects to Twitter!"
Typewriter: "SEE, I'm using it Right now!"
But I guess people do things just because they can, all the time.