- 15 Mar 09, 06:13 GMT
Stumbling into the Dorkbot expo at South by SouthWest is a little like that scene in Blade Runner at the home of the toy maker J.F. Sebastian.
A jumble of technology, from robots to sculpture, children's musical instruments to 1970s synthesisers it had the air of unearthed future aracana to it.
Dorkbot is a global phenomenon - it is a loose gathering of artists, engineers, musicians and hackers.
Their collective tagline is "People doing strange things with electricity."
In a small tent outside the main conference centre at Austin, perhaps the strangest thing with electricity was local music experimenters ArcAttack.
The group uses Tesla Coils, which generate flashes of electrical lightning bolts which also produce a square sound wave. That soundwave is fed by fibre optic cable into a midi controller, producing a sound not unlike the analogue synthesisers of the 1970s.
The group played the Doctor Who and Star Wars themes using the Tesla Coils, with percussion delivered by a series of robotic drums.
It was the undoubted highlighting of Dorkbot 2009 at SXSW, which also featured handbuilt synthesisers, and a band called Painful leg Injuries which uses a Nintedo Wiimote controller to play music.
After a day spent in panels musing the future of social networks and the rise of e-mail 2.0 a little light music powered by lightning bolts was very much needed.
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