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Hyland, Peterson, and Peterson, The Letterpress Shanty

Main Street

The Letterpress Shanty

The Letterpress Shanty is home to Northern Spark’s communally authored letterpress broadside, The Shantyquarian. Combining social networking with old-fashioned hand-printing from moveable type, The Shantyquarian turns socially generated text (sourced
from social networking platforms and on-site visitors) into a hand-typeset document laid out and printed on a letterpress and distributed to visitors throughout the night. During the weeks before Northern Spark, the Letterpress Shanty will generate online prompts through Twitter, Facebook, and Blogspot to solicit short texts from contributors around the world. These texts will be assembled and set in type on location at Northern Spark. Participants can submit to The Shantyquarian by tagging tweets with #shantyQ, responding to prompts on Facebook, or filling out an online questionnaire, available on The Shantyquarian blog.

Throughout the night, artists will solicit visitors with questionnaires and engage them in writing games to gather more material to be assembled with the online submissions. The document created will capture the immediacy and diffusion of online social networking, anchoring it in place and time to the intimacy and concreteness of the experiences of festival participants. When the Letterpress Shanty has finished assembling the texts, artists will begin hand-printing broadsides and distributing them to
the public for the duration of the evening. To complete the circle, a downloadable PDF of the broadside will be posted online.

The goal of the Letterpress Shanty is to draw together technologies across time and participants across space to create a collaboratively authored artifact of the event. Visitors are invited to pull a print on one of our antique letterpresses, engage with the typesetting process, and participate in collaborative writing games.