Most people are satisfied with their turntables as long as they’re able to play music. Sound artist Graham Dunning has rigged his so that it also makes music. Part musical instrument, part Rube Goldberg machine, the Mechanical Techno machine wildly reinterprets the most analog of materials to churn out improvisational techno beats.
In the video below, Dunning shows us how his invention works. In some cases, he manipulates the vinyl by bending or slicing it; for others he adds new materials to the records, like metal clamps or stickers. Each is connected to another instrument, so that every new rotation of the record triggers the sound of a synth, for example, or a drum beat. Separated by wooden dividers, the records stack on top of each other so they can all play at one, creating rhythmic–if irregular–dance beat.
Much like the hybrid synth-phone we covered last month, Dunning’s Mechanical Techno machine is an imaginative way to repurpose an outdated technology. But it also follows in the tradition of other conceptual artists who have purposefully manipulated old methods of playing music to create new sounds. The Czech artist Milan Knížák, for example, painted, burned or cut up records in order to achieve a wider variety of sounds in his “Broken Music Composition.” John Cage’s Williams Mix is made by splicing the magnetic tape in cassettes. In each case, the functionality of a common technology is radically reimagined, so that the messenger becomes the instrument itself.
For more of Graham Dunning’s work, go here.