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Watch techno made entirely with physical, mechanical objects

Techno has become folk art, popular music idiom. Yet it’s still often viewed through the machines that first made it. What if you could give it some sort of physical, mechanical form? That’s what Graham Dunning has done with Mechanical Techno. And in a new video (produced by Michael Forrest), he shows how it’s done.


Watch Mechanical Techno, Dance Music Made Organic, Physical by Graham Dunning

Even in hardware, the repetitive patterning of dance music remains invisible to the eye. Sure, you might get a blinking light here and there, but otherwise, the process is virtual, whether the sound process is analog or digital. Graham Dunning’s Mechanical Techno project is different. Every pattern is made physical and tangible, every machine rhythm mechanically constructed rather than abstract. As such, the UK-based experimental musician, composer, and sound artist makes sounds that evolve organically from the devices that make them. As contact mics brush against physical objects, those rhythms are often slightly imperfect, emerging from a kind of kinetic …

Serious play. Photo courtesy the artist.

Hypnotic LEGO Automata: Technic Machines Make Music

Play House from Alex Allmont on Vimeo. “Play House” — get it? Playing with LEGOs seems to have an ongoing intuitive connection to musicians, to composition and musical play. So, of course, after we commented on the LEGO Maschine controller hack at MIDI Hack at Stockholm last weekend, several of you reminded us of this recent piece by Alex Allmont. (Now, in fairness, the Maschine hack was put together in well under 24 hours – sometimes work takes time. But I find it nice to see them together.) What’s especially beautiful about Play House is that musical mechanisms and robotic …


Mechanical Motion: Drawing with Turntables, Phasing with Film Projectors

Speaking of mechanical motion and machine drawing, in the work of Robert Howsare, vintage equipment becomes part kinetic sculpture, part machine artist. In “Drawing Apparatus,” two turntables become a generative geometric drawing machine, Spirograph-style. (See some really lovely-looking renders by this machine on the artwork project page. Via Today and Tomorrow, hat tip to and Cool Hunting.) The revolution of the records create drawings that serve as a markers of temporality. The drawings also speak to the idea of the editionable print through their ability to be replicated using domestic materials. IV Phases is a hypnotic work involving phasing …


Turntable-Based, Kinetic Sound Sculptures and Instruments

Works For Turntable from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo. Digital sound, and electronic sound in general, can become abstract. In fact, sound itself can be abstract. So there’s something beautiful about rendering sound as something kinetic, mechanical, and physical. Watch the hypnotic works by Stephen Cornford, top; as the video progresses, the pieces deepen in subtlety. (Thanks to Richard Devine for spotting this one.) Cornford isn’t the only artist finding new sonic frontiers in the turntable. From a recent event in San Francisco sponsored by our friends at MAKE Magazine, artist Walter Kitundu talks about his own fascination with the turntable …


The Particle: Responsive, Kinetic Sculpture from

The Particle v1.0 from Alex Posada on Vimeo. How much sonic and eye-popping goodness can you wrap into a big, light-up sphere? So much goodness. “The Particle” is a kinetic sculpture produced at Barcelona’s visual arts workshop Hangar by software and interactive audiovisual artist Alex Posada. Packed with custom electronics and using XBee for wireless communications, the creation responds to the space around it, transforming movement into color and sound. It’s perhaps the perfect response to advances in particle physics; just as unseen particles are, the orb is entangled with what happens around it. Rings of colored LED lights rotate …


A Different View of Particles: Real World Pinscreens

No, this is not Processing. Looking for inspiration only within our computer boxes is limiting. Want a fresh perspective? Check out the physical world. And yes, you’ll find even alien-looking patterns of particles out there. I recently read a post by talented digital artist Golan Levin pointing to the non-digital work of Ward Fleming. According to Fleming, “you’re seeing 40,000 black acrylic spheres 0.125 in. dia. vibrating/contained on an off level glass plate horizontally mounted and back lit.” I also love the more poetic description from YouTube: the agony of particle behavior. struggling to express consciousness in a world animated …


Kinetic Inspiration: Sculpture at BMW Museum by ART+COM

You know it when you see it: media starting to actually evolve past what you expect, mimicking each other, and pushing at the obvious sense of what they are. One particularly exciting trend is real-world, kinetic sculptures influenced by digital media and taking on new movements and shapes. It’s the kind of thing I hope will push those of us working in software and projection to push back and make our medium look different, too. Via Toxi, here’s just that kind of work, a kinetic sculpture at the BMW Museum. I find it “interesting” immediately, but the poster notes that …