Brother Printer Orchestra

by | Nov 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Chris Cairns was recently was asked to build an orchestra from redundant old technology and instead of faking it he did it all for real.

While some would throw away their old computer junk, Chris Cairns went on a rummage expedition to assemble a motley bunch of retired electronics, re-wiring them to build a 100 piece MIDI orchestra, with programming by Is This Good? ( Who needs post-production effects when you can reverse-engineer photocopiers, modems, scanners, fax machines and hard drives to simulate rhythms and tones that together play a very apt rendition of Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ for real?

I was asked to film the macro intro sequence and I was astonished at how everything was achieved and how much fun it was to play.

Directed by Chris Cairns
Produced by Bonnie Anthony
Production Company: Partizan

Director of Photography: Denzil Armour Brown
Programming & Electronics: Is This Good? (
Sound Design: Will Cohen
Editor: Ross Hallard @ Trim
Colourist: George Kyriacou @ MPC
Post-Production: Time Based Arts
Agency: Grey London
Creatives: Sam Haynes & Lee Trott
Agency Producer: Tom Pearce

Stills from the shoot

We, and by we I mean, built a MIDI orchestra for Grey London and Brother from old computer junk. Photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, printers, hard drives, modems and the like. We thought it’d be most fun to do it for real. We were really inspired by Tristram Cary, James Houston, BD594 and other radical tinkerers. Making cold stuff warm is fun. We found loads of old machines destined for landfill, took them to bits and reverse engineered them to make noises that we could control via MIDI. Badman Will Cohen made an arrangement of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ but the orchestra can play any MIDI arrangement, or indeed be performed live. Maximum respect to Neil Mendoza, Marek Bereza, Will Cohen, Stefan Dzisiewski-Smith, Justin Pentecost, Mike Harrison, Mat Holloway, Jason Oakley and all at Partizan, Liat Wassershtrom, Ben Joffe, Tim Leask, Jack Ellis, Ozzie Pullin. Awesome cinematography by Denzil Armour-Brown and Daniel Lowe. Tight edit by Ross Hallard. Post and psychotherapy by Sheldon Gardner and

From Chris’ Vimeo page

BROTHER ‘Printer Orchestra’ film