Divider: The Laser-Powered Drum Machine

The rise of electronic music in recent years has propelled the drum machine into the public eye more prominently than ever before. With electronic music showing very little indication of going away anytime soon, expect to see intriguing experiments and projects combining music and technology.

Such is the case with “Divider,” a large laser-powered drum machine installation, says Engadget, created by Russian artist Vtol. The machine, described by Vtol as “an autonomous light-music installation,” serves as a collaborative project between Polytechnic Museum Moscow and Ars Electronica Lins.

Laser Powered Drum Machine
Would you travel to see the Laser Powered Drum Machine if you were in Russia?

The machine works by utilizing seven red lasers, 42 fans, a mono sound system, and four Arduino controllers. Divider’s laser beams are disrupted by fans with a photo sensor on the end, which monitors the presence or absence of laser light. The lasers serve as “independent binary variables,” creating the basis from which all of Divider’s sounds originate. The speed of the multiple fans helps to create the range of sounds, due to the modulation of the laser’s light.

The Inspiration for Divider

Divider was inspired by Rhythmicon, often considered the first electronic drum machine, invented by Léon Theremin in 1931. Rhythmicon used spinning disks and optical sensors to create its unique sounds. Drawing parallels between Vtol’s 21st-century Divider and Theremin’s Rhythmicon is far from a challenge.

Unfortunately, if you want to see Divider up close and personal, you’ll have to head to Russia to see it on display at Polytechnic Museum Moscow. Currently, there are no plans to tour or sell the device once it is no longer on display.

You can check out the Divider in action below:

Explore even more technology with our article on the Star Trek Replicator, part of our Science Fiction or Science Fact? Series.