Year of the Typewriter responds to a challenge by ecology writer Paul Kingsnorth to cast landscape as the lead character in stories. The response of playwright Kendra Fanconi to this challenge was to rig up an old typewriter as a backpack and go out into wild places with the idea of translating what landscape has to say. A first workshop at the Banff Centre in Alberta explored this concept and opened up other avenues of exploration: interspecies arts collaborations with native species and ideas for translating the voice of place. It ties in with a longstanding interest in West-Coast voice and vision, but with a more specific and rigorous focus. It turns from the technological and to a simpler, more direct, ‘by-hand’ aesthetic.
Following the Banff research intensive, in a very different kind of landscape, The Only Animal brought the project back to British Columbia to the threatened forest of Mount Elphinstone starting on the autumn equinox. In true mountain fashion, it was a year of ups and downs, and we met a range of narratives up there. From drought to deluge, pine beetle scrawling to elk trails, from the bounty of the Chanterelle Forest to its utter destruction from clear cutting and from familiar rains to new snow. And a sheaf of typewritten sheets, some stained with cedar, many smudged with rain, were buried at the end of the project to be unearthed in a future season when it has been digested by the forest itself.