Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hatsune Miku, possibly a non-fiction S1M0NE

During the 2016 Science Agora, I opted to watch sessions on how science, technology, and innovation are used to move arts and creativity forward. One of the speakers was Keiichiro Shinuya, an artist who "collaborated" with Hatsune Miku to create an opera called "The End". 

Who is Hatsune Miku? I haven't heard of her but she's apparently very popular; people trooped to venues where The End was shown... notwithstanding that she is a 16-year old computer-generated humanoid character, her voice is generated through Yamaha's Vocaloid sample-synthesising technology, there were no humans in the opera, and music was played purely via synthesiser. In other words, no human was  involved in the opera onscreen.

During Shibuya's presentation, I was sitting in the audience, shaking my head in amazement. It appears that what Andrew Niccol envisioned when he produced and directed S1M0NE in 2002 is slowly becoming a reality a decade or so onwards. In that movie, Al Pacino portrayed a film director who developed Simone, a computer-generated female character equipped with artificial intelligence, to star in his movies. The consequences of her popularity were then explored as the movie reached its climax and denouement. 

Hatsune Miku is still years away from Simone but the concept has already been made reality. It's just a matter of refining the details; right now, Hatsune Miku looks like one of those characters in the animated Japanese series "Sailor Moon" but she was wearing a Marc Jacobs-designed Damier-checkered wardrobe. Yes, the virtual pop singer was virtually wearing Louis Vuitton in her opera! 

Japan is truly ultramodern. Culture here readily accepts innovations in entertainment as Hatsune Miku. It will take a few more years before the rest of the world can catch up, methinks. But when that time comes, Japan will have leaped forward again!