Divider is inspired by Léon Theremin’s Rhythmicon from 1933.

Bored with the ubiquitous sounds of the TR-909 but love machines that make rhythms? Well, a Russian-built, laser-powered installation called Divider could be the answer to all your prayers.

Created by Russian artist Vtol for the Polytechnic Museum Moscow and Ars Electronica Linz, Divider sends the light from seven red lasers horizontally through high-speed fans.

When the blades of the fans cut through the lasers, they function as divider-modulators that turn the beams into rhythmic impulses when opposing photo sensors pick up their presence (or absence).

As Vtol explains, the Divider is inspired by Léon Theremin’s Rhythmicon, widely held as the world’s first rhythm machine. The 1931 device also used rotating discs to interrupt light rays and optical sensors to pick up light and create rhythms.

The speed of each fan is variable, leading to high-frequency pops and clicks that sound like the kind of rhythms you’d expect to hear at a Raster-Noton gig. It’s just as hypnotic to watch as an Alvo Noto performance too.

Unfortunately it’s not for sale, but if you’ve got four Arduino processors, 42 small fans, 7 lasers, a mono sound system and a solid grasp of the Pure Data language, you might be able to build your own. [via Ask.Audio]

Read next: The 14 drum machines that shaped modern music



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