Light Sensitive Disk Drive

If you’ve never found any reason to go to Lancaster, the upcoming Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders might be a good one. The event will present new types of objects, buildings, and products stemming from the increasing use of digital technologies by artists, architects, designers, and others.

The programme is rather yummy. Among the projects exhibited is Light Sensitive Disk Drive, a custom-built LSD Drive able to read lost data on apparently useless CDs. It was designed by Simon Blackmore whom you might remember as one of the developers, together with Antony Hall, of the iLog,


“A CD drive taken from an old PC has been taken apart. The complex motors have been made to function again using hand coded microcontrollers. The laser that reads the data of the CD has been replaced by a light sensor that detects changes in light levels through the disk. By detecting the amount of light that falls through the disk, the drive is able to read the areas of lost data on a disk. This information is sent to a computer as midi data and then processed by a custom program written in the OS software application SuperCollider. The result is a fully functioning piece of computer hardware with accompanying software that allows users to make music with the hands-on process of scratching the disk.”

The work was shown at Futuresonic in July, here are the pictures i took at the time. See it at Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders, CityLab, Lancaster (UK), from 29 September – 21 October, 2006. Organised by Fast-uk and folly.