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Paul Slocum: dot_matrix_synth

Paul Slocum: dot_matrix_synth

I remember the terror of printing school essays on my old 9-pin dot matrix printer. Not only did it take forever, it made a terrible noise and the tractor feed was prone to jamming and needed constant attention. Several times I was late for school due to printer mishaps at the very last minute. But the magic of seeing each line appear dot by dot was impressive.

dot_matrix_synth by Paul Slocum (a “geek artist/musician/hacker living in dallas, texas”) uses the dot matrix aesthetic to the maximum effect. Slocum turns Epson LQ-500 printers into musical instrument, using the sound of the printer printing pre-programmed patterns as well as the built-in error beeps to create strange and wonderful sounds. He does this by hacking both the printer hardware and software. His original intent was to create a kind of low-cost mellotron, but he quickly realized other possibilities.

The project also turns image into sound:

There is interaction between the images and music. The image dithering patterns fluctuate depending on what notes are played, and the music’s volume and rhythmic patterns change depending on the pattern in the current horizontal section of the image. The printer can store about three pages of black and white images which print in order and then repeat.

dot_matrix_synth was shown in an interactive version for last year’s Readme in Aarhus. Slocum also uses it in his live music performances. MP3s of the piece in action can be found on the project web page.

5 Responses to “Return of the Dot Matrix Printer: dot_matrix_synth”
1. Bangla Music, October 28th, 2005 at 23:10

very interesting

2. gif, October 31st, 2005 at 01:10

A very similar project is the symphony for dot matrix printers by [The User] collective.

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