Receipt Printer Typerwriter prototype

portable printing

The process of printing something involves manifesting a representation on a piece of paper. Manifesting by printing takes time. What is on the paper at every given moment of the printing process is different. This makes the printing process a time-based media.

In most printers it is hard to experience the time-based media of print because it is hidden away inside a huge machine: we cannot see the many intermediate manifestations which lies between the blank paper and a fully printed page.

However, not all printers hide away the printing process. The pen plotter affords observation of the time-based media and provides options to pause, lengthen, or alter the media.

The pen plotter is a piece of technology which allow us to explore the expressive space of the time-based printing medium. In most pen plotters the pen is easily accesible which makes it possible to see what is going on at any point during the printing process.

Several people have made use of this to do exactly this: Wesley Aptekar-Cassels did a playful and insightful exploration by using the plotter printing area as the interface for a flappy bird game.

a photo of the pen plotter plotty bird game

Inspired by Wesley's project I decided to do my own exploration by writing a program, {midi plotter} which draws a visualisation of what you play on the piano realtime:

a gif animation of the midi plotter in action

edit dates: 12-04-2019

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