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Mechanical orchestra built from decommissioned guns

Artist Pedro Reyes has built a self-playing orchestra out of weapons seized from Mexican drug cartels.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Artist Pedro Reyes has built a self-playing orchestra out of weapons seized from Mexican drug cartels.

Pedro Reyes wants to transform the world. In 2008, he took 1527 weapons surrendered by their owners in the city of Culiacán, where the rate of death by gunshot is high, and melted them down to create shovels. These were then distributed around the world to plant trees in a project called "Palas por Pistolas" ("Shovels for Guns"). Last year, for his project "Imagine", he created 50 working musical instruments from weapons.

"Disarm", from this year, is a progression and a continuation of that work. Using weapons seized from drug cartels by the Mexican army, he has built eight musical instruments into a mechanical orchestra that can be programmed and operated via programs such as Ableton Live, MIDI and Max MSP.

The instruments include drums, a xylophone, stringed bass, a cylindrical harp and others.

"This is the redemption of this metal that could have taken your life or mine," he said in an interview with the Creators Project. "So, they are better as musical instruments."

To create the orchestra, he worked together with musicians and media studio Cocolab, which helped Reyes design the technology that powers it.

"The goal from the beginning was to create a series of mechanisms that would allow the music to produce music with the software that they always use; in this case, Ableton Live," Cocolab's Alejandro Machorro said. "And at the same time, translate that into a weapon hitting something to make a sound."

You can watch the full video documenting the fascinating process below.

Via thecreatorsproject.vice.com