Friday, September 21, 2012

"Digital Artist"

There's a pop singer in Japan that's taking the oriental islands by storm. She's been around for a few years, and her empire gets bigger and bigger every year. She's toured in her native Japan, the United States, and Singapore. Her fans number in the millions, she has her visage on a race car, and there's currently a petition to get a doll that looks like her into space. Her name is Hatsune Miku. All of this, and she's only sixteen.

Well... kind of.

That's the unique thing about Ms. Miku: She doesn't exist. Not in the corporeal sense, anyway. Her voice is made by using a sound program, and her appearance was created by an illustrator. From the ground up, she's completely digital, artificial.

Yet, she's a star-and-a-half. She's made her parent company gobs of money, and has fans all over the world.  It makes you think about the argument that one day, computers will make artists redundant. Granted, Hatsune's music and stage presence is all done by composers and animators, so you arts majors can breathe easy.

Justin Bieber of the future? 
Oh, wait, I said "artists."

Whoa, whoa, stage presence? Yep, she holds concerts; SOLD OUT concerts in Japan and the US, with thousands of fans, light shows, and a live band to boot.

Hit the pause button on the music player to
the right. You've got to hear/see this.

That's some mind-blowing stuff. You've got a crowd of people cheering to a voice that isn't (exactly) real, and to a "singer" that's not even there. Dungeons & Dragons, Renaissance Fairs, and Fantasy Football don't seem all that weird now, do they?

I bring this up because I have to ask: What does this kind of thing mean for the entertainment industry? We have amazing CGI capabilities, but that hasn't replaced our need for real-life actors. Will music follow the same path? Or are digital artists the way of the future?

I certainly hope not. R2-D2 singing "Ave Maria" would sound awful.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments, if you feel so inclined.


  1. Not entirely unprecedented. Over ten years ago Damon Albarn & Jamie Hewlett made the "virtual band" The Gorillaz. The music was created and recorded by real people, but was attributed to fictional comic-book characters who appeared in the videos.

  2. I can tell that you've never done ecstasy or smoked pot.

  3. Yeah, and Gorillaz has won a Grammy and have regular concerts as well (which I want to some day attend).