In 1877, the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison, and it, largely, is responsible for the way we listen to vinyl: A needle traces grooves engraved in a spinning record. Nearly 150 years on, the design is still iconic—and though the Dyskograf, at first glance, resembles a traditional record player, it reads music in a different way. Namely, it uses a high-speed video camera to read drawings.
If it sounds fantastical, it’s because it is. Developed byJesse Lucas, Erwan Raguenes and Yro, members of French art collective Avoka, the Dyskograf reads paper records. Users make marker drawings on a paper disc—a squiggle can correspond to a drum kick or synthesizer bloop—which are then read by the player’s needle-camera, interpreted by software, and result in music. And like traditional record players, it spins at either 33 or 45 RPM. Cool, right?
“The numeric world is a world of binary choice,” the player’s creators state on their website. “The object of DYSKOGRAF is to give room again for accidents in numeric creation, accidents that often favour creativity.”
It’s easy to see the appeal of Dyskograf—like vinyl, it ties music to a physical format. It’s easy to use—it only needs a Sharpie and paper records—and encourages experimentation. And, as co-founder Lucas tells Via FastCo, it focuses on the fact that time and music are inextricably linked.”For me it’s important to understand that music is about time, time that goes by, linear time… and digital mediums have broken that link to linear time,” he says. “It’s too easy to jump, to cut, and to go somewhere else.”
Check the record player below.