Tina Rowe

manual dexterity

Not everybody can focus a hasselblad

Yeah well, after my mawkish last post I thought I should write something about art’nshit.

My mother, her again but be patient, well she made, as in MADE me learn to type at school.  There was some shame attached to this because typing was a CSE subject and I was an O Level student destined for great things and non of them were labelled typing pool.  To illustrate just how trangressive my mother’s dictat had been; I was supposed to be a talented artist skilled in painting, perspective and pottery, skilling up was the way to go so when I did my options I was adamant that I should do craft as well as art  O Level was just drawing and painting.  The school wasn’t having it; craft was CSE and art was O Level so it was Art and History of Art or nothing.  However, somehow, I know not how, my mother managed to wangle that CSE subject to my portfolio of study,  and that CSE was the very apogee of all that could possibly be shit.

So there I sat, in this portakabin classroom, dully bashing out afsfdfg and struggling with the shift and tab functions on a typewriter so old even Mark Twain would have asked for an upgrade.  I was furious, slack, unresponsive and was rewarded with a CSE grade 4 for my effort.  Grade 4 basically means I was spotted in the room at some point during the examination.

Thing is, I can still type, I actually like the action of typing.  It’s a bit like playing the piano, if you press the wrong keys, it mostly doesn’t work but you can get some lovely odd things happening if you just go with it.  If you press the right keys then magic can also happen, but not in the same way.   Typing is an analogue task, even though it mostly gets turned into bits and other electronic stuff these days, it requires some manual dexterity, doubly so if you are using a manual typewriter.  But one of the best things about typing on a typewriter is if you stuff it up, your stuff up is there forever and for all to see, sometimes in triplicate.  When I was learning, I liked the errors and erasures, my tutor and the examiner did not.

A few weeks ago a friend took a couple of shots of me with my hasselblad.  I discovered either he can’t focus a medium format or the wall behind me was just that little bit more interesting than my comely figure.  Still, that was a happy accident because I have been meaning to type on a negative for quite some time and now I had the perfect excuse to do it and as soon as I had, I needed to print it, so I did.

The words are from a brazillian comic by Raul Pederneiras, who is definitely worth paying some attention to if you like early 20th century illustration.  I don’t understand much portuguese, but his lines are so fluid and expressive that it is pretty clear what he is talking about without the aid of google translate.

In case you are wondering, I failed most of my other O Levels.  School sucked a lot, but I sucked more as a student.


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