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A spatiotemporal typewriter: Enki Bilal’s Script-Walker

by | Nov 19, 2022 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

I first ran across the Script-Walker in 2016, on a visit to London’s Science Museum.

Artist Enki Bilal introduced the device in 1986 in his graphic novel La femme piège (which has been translated both as The Trapped Woman and as The Woman Trap). In 2025, journalist Jill Bioskop uses this “spatiotemporal transcriptor” to send news stories back to the year 1993.

I just discovered that in 2013, a 3-dimensional, hybrid physical-virtual Script-Walker was created for an exhibit at the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris.

The text accompanying this video reads:
Today, it is the universe of Enki Bilal that the team explores, giving both real and virtual existence to the Script-Walker, this device that sends messages to the past. In The Trapped Woman (1986), the second part of the “Nikopol Trilogy”, the heroine Jill Bioskop types on her Script-Walker a report on the conflicts that ignite London in 2025 and her articles appear in Libération, in 1993. This strange object that looks like a giant insect was modeled in 3D using Dassault Systèmes design software, usually used to design cars, machines or any other industrial object. It was then integrated into a universe where the real and the virtual mingle, via a new kind of interactive holographic and relief kiosk. Thanks to 3D printing techniques (stereolithography), the Script-Walker materializes in the real world while the mixture with the virtual makes it possible to understand its operating principles. The boundaries between the real and the imaginary world are momentarily blurred. Within this museum dedicated to engineers and technical inventions, among the communication tools such as the Morse machine or the gramophone, the intervention of Dassault Systèmes seems self-evident; however, it takes on another meaning here, as a bridge between art and science, imagination and technical innovation, industrial progress and new technologies.

Note the circular keyboard, reminiscent of exotic typewriters such as the Lambert …

… or the Crown.

I give the Script-Walker the honorary title of “typewriter” for being a self-contained, magical writing device. When it’s invented in 2025, I’m definitely going to invest in one.

4 Comments

  1. Ted

    I feel that the ergonomics leave something to be desired (:

    Reply
  2. Richard P

    Don't knock it till you try it …

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    I feel like one of these is unlikely to show up at the thrifts :D

    Reply
  4. Erik Bruchez

    Good catch. Bilal is a wonderful artist.

    Reply

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