Exposure № 105: Ghost Writer

3-Oliver1-Royal (vintage)8-Woodstock6-Smith Corona Pacemaker

Ellen Jantzen, photographer and artist, tells us a little about her “Ghost Writer” project:

I recently encountered a real relic of the past: a typewriter repair shop here in St. Louis. It was full of all forms of typewriters, from very old to electric IBMs. Having not used a typewriter for 20 years, I was intrigued with the fact that people are still using these and having them repaired.

But mainly I am intrigued with who has used these in the past… each typewriter has a story to tell. Was it used to write a novel, poems, or letters to editors? Was it used purely for business? Which users are still alive and which users have passed on?

I feel that, more than most artifacts, the typewriter has a very personal connection with the user on a physical level (touching) and on an emotional/intellectual level. The act of writing, even if only transcribing shorthand, draws upon the inner world of the typist. In this series I am invoking the spirit of past users of each typewriter I photographed.

* * * * *

Ellen Jantzen was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and lives in Southern Illinois. Her early college years were spent obtaining a degree in graphic arts; later emphasizing fine art. She obtained her advanced degree at  the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles in 1992. Her current explorations in photo inspired art use both a camera to capture staged assemblages and a computer to alter and manipulate the images. Ellen has been creating works that bridge the world of prints, photography and collage. Ellen’s work has been shown in galleries and museums world-wide as well as numerous websites. She is currently represented by the Susan Spiritus Gallery.

Her other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Leave a comment


  1. What a wonderful project and amazing composition! I’m certain this exploration of the ‘ghosts’ of typewriters and their authors past will prove to be a sumptuous and rewarding endeavour. Thank you for sharing. Paul


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