I walked up the dirt road before leaving the mountains. Fall was creeping in. I thought a car had driven by, but there remained a strange banging and rattling noise. I turned around and listened, yet nobody was there. I looked again; it was just a 25 mile-an-hour sign caught up in a tree. With the winds kicking up, I ran back down the hill.
There were always strange machines in the basement. A Victrola, oil lamps, and car transmissions sat in the dark, collecting dust by the coal furnace. I grew up in a log home on a mountainside in Pennsylvania’s coal regions, where black slag piles were poised to swallow one-street towns: a landmark of the Industrial Revolution’s demise. When I would pass just over the ridge and wander through abandoned factories, I could feel the heavy air inside: damp and laden with an eerie silence.
My childhood existed at the tail end of an era of typewriters and rotary phones: forms of communication that demand a physical connection. These fragmented memories still exist in the tactility of ink embedded into a surface, whether rolled through a press or fed through a typewriter. In 'paperless' times of smaller phones, video, texting, and communication devices nearly connected to the body, presets and automatic corrections make us less aware of our technological extensions. Obsolete, analog devices make this much more visible. I evoke the disembodied voice and hand, along with the confusion of human, landscape and machine. Communication seems severed, but perhaps something can still transmit through the static.
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