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After looking back at the printing press and the typewriter - two machines that essentially have the physicality of the user at their core -, I decided to create an analogue device that would reinforce the physical aspects of reading and writing, and that would require a certain amount of mental engagement with the machine, by making it less intuitive than a digital keyboard. Thoughts Machine had to be made in such a way that it would highlight the individuality of each user handling it, rather than opting for a standardized, universal system. Each message written should therefore have its own identity, its very own connection to its creator, so that it would be impossible to neglect the original author of a message the way we do when using our electronic devices. What resulted was a movable device that could ultimately allow each person to leave a personalized trail of thoughts behind them, thus reinforcing the roles of both reader and writer. This machine contains mainly a keyboard made up of different keys that, once pressed, would operate the respective letterform into recording text behind the person, as a form of a stream of consciousness. This would allow the body to leave a concrete textual mark of their thoughts in the world, however physically distorted it may or may not be due to the surface it is printed on, while allowing another person to read it. Imagine a street with multiple people using this device, leaving many trails of thought behind them; imagine various typographic compositions being created on different surfaces: it would be somehow a way of reading people’s minds, but also a way of transforming the silent act of device-based reading and writing into an open, social and visual conversation. This device challenges the physicality of writing in that it requires the person to constantly move and to take their time in performing the act; it also challenges the physicality of reading, in that it pushes the text out of its typical context and gives the reader a new found freedom, unlike the usual left-to-right or right-to-left reading. In this sense, the reader occupies an equally – if not more - important role as the writer, because the reading will not be only focused on the meaning of the text, but also on the aesthetic quality of what has been printed. The device would therefore enrich the experiences of both the reader and the writer by making them as equally important as each other, and would refute the notion that “the reader has never been the concern of classical criticism” because “for it, there is no other man in literature but the one who writes” (Barthes, 1967).

Ghiya Haidar