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Sebastian Scholl

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Sebastian Scholl

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I’m somewhat of a broken record in conversation these days. No matter the topic, my chats continue to segue into discussing augmented and virtual reality. My friends indulge me fortunately, and more often than not share something that I’ve yet heard or thought of.

At Manhattan’s NeueHouse over a cocktail I demoed Rico’s Theta S camera for my old friend Jona when he brought up Hatsune Miku. For those not familiar – as I was not was at that time – Hatsune Miku is a Japanese pop idol. Her brand and music is not too different from any American teenage pop idol, language aside. Hatsune’s distinctiveness, as I see it, comes from her not being human. She is a hologram.

Yes, a hologram. Hatsune Mika was created by an artist who licenses out her image rights to song writers and animators. Using hologram projection technology Hatsune Mika often performs live to loving audiences alongside a band.  Watch the video below and see her perform in concert for yourself.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhYaX01NOfA%5B/embedyt%5D

“That’s such Japanese thing”, may be your initial reaction – accompanied by an acute sense of disbelief and uncertainty. However do take a moment and step back from any initial skepticism to evaluate the merit of this Vocaloid concept.

There likely isn’t a single children’s song any of us can remember from our childhood which we attribute to a musician. What do I mean? Disney songs, Barney, Pooh Bear, and the list could goes on. Whether it’s Under the Sea or A Whole New World, we grew up loving these songs and those who sang them – unaffected by their singers being fictional cartoon characters.

Anyone reading this has probably out grown Disney, and after doing so likely came to consider music as the product of a musician. Back before electronic music, being a musician was an absolute requirement needed to create music. Think of how that’s changed! Almost all our music is now digital. Made using tools that do not require musicians, but technicians. Simply put, we’ve been able to abstract the creation of music away from both instruments and musicians.

Yet the thought model of seeing a performer as an artist/musician has been inherited. In many ways it is expected. So much so that many of the most celebrated “musicians” of our day are nothing more than brand ambassadors. Carefully curated figure heads designed to take credit for a business person’s marketing strategy, a song writer’s lyrics, and a producer’s sounds. These people are not musicians. Even giving them the title of artist is too often a stretch. They are performers.

[vrview img=”https://mynamessebastian.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/shibuya.jpg” width=”100%”]

Just as we’ve abstracted away instruments, doing the same with performers seems easily in tow. Hatsune Mika is a real world example of our ability to not only create digital music, but also create digital performers.

Hologram technology is seeping into the mainstream through mixed reality applications and new supporting hardwares. It is not even a stretch on the mind to imagine oneself taking their children to a Frozen concert to hear Let It Go sung live by Princess Elsa herself. How about a Back from the Dead tour? Featuring any artist we’ve missed to dearly to leave only in memory.  Yet the most compelling application of all may be the creation of completely new performers. Ones that will have the potential of being nothing less than immortals.

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