It is the year 333 EZ, and I am the last in a long line of air writers. There is no heir apparent and my remaining days are few. This memorized story has been passed down for 13 generations.
I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 2078 AD and the day was October 13th— a Friday. I arrived at the art gallery a little after noon and they were removing the last of the architectural signage. All that remained were holes from the metal brackets and a dusty partial outline that read ERY.
A government-issued sun-dissolving memo filled the window: “Oral exchange is the only legal and permitted form of communication. Memorization is the only legal and permitted form of recording. All surviving written language and recording devices are hereby outlawed.”
This was the latest in a chain of events that started with the worldwide Cellulose Nano-mite Epidemic of 2037, in which all plant matter vanished, including paper, fabric, furniture, currency, much artwork, and many buildings. All p-books and non-d archives were lost. Plastics, metals, glass, and stone dominated the Earth.
Computers and ai-machines continued to operate until the International Internet and Information Wipe-out Wars (IIIWW) of the early ‘70s. Since then all digital and online media, computing clouds, and networked objects have become obsolete—computers de-evolving into programmed calculators. Slowly the EZ regime has gathered and destroyed all the remaining writing tools and manuals. Art was one of the last outposts of the written word.
This is why the rare practice of air writing is experiencing a revival. One of its originators, Yves Klein, signed the sky. Another pioneer, James Lee Byars, wrote, “The perfect Love Letter is write ‘I love you’ backwards in the air.”
TYLER ROWLAND is an artist living in New York City.