A Love Letter to Typing with Dr. Dana Mount

Each September, Downtown Sydney comes to life with the Lumiere Arts Festival, a free, accessible, contemporary arts festival featuring public installations along with films, dance and so much more. This Saturday, September 23, Cape Brreton University’s own Dr. Dana Mount, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environment program will take part with her project, A Love Letter to Typing. 

A Love Letter to Typing is an interactive installation that invites visitors to experiment with the basic typing apparatus – a keyboard. When visitors type, squares of colour will be projected onto a giant screen backed by atmospheric music to give the space a welcoming and curious feeling. Only the typer themselves will know what message is sent, but onlookers can experience the art that appears on screen as a result.

“I want users to think about the pleasant act of typing itself, like pressing the keys on a piano, and to allow themselves to reflect on the tiny, repetitive actions that our most everyday activity demands on us,” says Dana. 

QWERTY, the system that made this project possible, was programmed by Dana’s colleague, Dr. George Shaohua Chen and his research assistant and former CBU student, David Cassagrande. In a cross-disciplinary collaboration between mathematics and English, A Love Letter to Typing was born. 

For Dana, it was a former university practice that first inspired her artistic idea. “As someone who was in university for twelve long years, I spent a lot of time at the keyboard facing that dreaded blinking cursor,” she explains. “I devised something of a warm-up where I would close my eyes and type a favourite lyric or poem. This often helped me get past my block and I could usually segue this into writing something.” 

When it comes to her favourite words to type, Dana says power and highlight are at the top of the list, while words that are more difficult to spell on the first try like necessary are the worst. With this installation, Dana hopes other typers will continue to think about her project when they’re sitting at their own keyboards, perhaps transforming a boring black block into something rife with new possibilities. 

To check out A Love Letter to Typing and all of the other wonderful installations at this year’s Lumiere Arts Festival, visit the Eltuek Arts Centre on Saturday, September 23, from 7:00pm until midnight. All are welcome to this free community event.