Sledgehammer-operated Keyboard, 2005
Wood, silicone rubber, electronics, x 36 x 72 x 36", Duration Variable
SHKB is a huge version of the USB keyboard you're using right now. SHKB measures 6 feet in length and features 29 cast silicone rubber keys. The letters A through Z are represented, as are the function keys Space, Period and Return. There is no Delete key.
Regardless of its particular application, technology is intended to enable its user. Some devices and methods perform better than others and still other technologies cause more harm than good. Nonetheless, our expectation of any given technological experience carries with it the assumption of facilitation or enrichment. Both successful and unsuccessful design, under the general guise of high technology, can lull us into a sense that we have accomplished something more than we could on our own, regardless of the actual result.
From mineral pigments used in the caves of Lascaux to laser-bonded toner on mass-manufactured paper, technological advances have democratized the process of communicating. Yet perhaps something is lost or forgotten when its mediums become too facile. While it has been to the great benefit of civilization to conquer impediments to communication on a personal and global scale, the seemingly transparent methods we use today are anything but. To paraphrase Andrew Keen's argument in The Cult of the Amateur, the easier it is to do something, the easier it is to do it wrong.
SHKB imposes (or re-imposes) physical difficulty on the process of writing, burdening the author-user with a feat of exertion in order to produce even a concise message. Writing is hard work; what is usually an instantaneous and anonymous act—typing on a computer—becomes a labored performance in a public setting. In enforcing layers of arduousness and sometimes frustration upon the user, SHKB requires the operator to reevaluate his or her relationship with common technological mediators that are often taken for granted.