These musicians use barcode scanners to make their beats

Is it a rave, or the check-out line at Target?

Electronicos Fantasticos, the wild, half-music-half-tech project led by Japanese artist Ei Wada, is sort of both. The group’s incredible tunes use barcode scanners, old TVs and other “electromagnetic instruments” to create beats that are made entirely from technology.

The project, launched in 2015, includes all kinds of art installations and performances — but Ei Wada’s barcode music stands out as something special. Using the same kind of scanners you’d find at the grocery store self-checkout, he manages to create fully-fledged songs.

So how does it work, exactly? Typically, Ei Wada and his fellow musicians set up massive, complex tapestries of barcodes, which they then play with their “instruments” — often while donning scannable, black and white uniforms.

According to one of the group’s Instagram posts, the barcodes “generate sounds by connecting scan-signals of a barcode scanner to a powered speaker directly [instead of to] a cash register.”

There’s plenty of experimentation beyond that too. Electronicos Fantasticos has expanded its technological playground to include wild new concepts, including a scannable dress that can be worn and played all at the same time.

Ultimately, the process is about including others as well. Ei Wada works to include amateurs and plenty of other artists in his project, with the goal of creating a full “electromagnetic orchestra.”

“It presents forms of music not only for listening and watching, but for getting people involved and having them interact with the instruments as well,” the group’s website states.

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