Laurel Halo + Mari Matsutoya pen an essay to accompany two poignant 360° videos from virtual idol Hatsune Miku

, 31 January 2017

“These hands will never grasp your hands…” So go the poignant English subtitles for Japanese vocaloid and global pop star Hatsune Miku‘s ‘Until I Make U Smile,’ released as one of two 360° videos today in the lead up to her upcoming Still Be Here performance at London’s Barbican Centre on February 26.

Commissioned by transmediale and CTM Festival in 2016, this will be the third iteration of the installation and collaborative performance, developed collectively by artists Laurel Halo, Mari Matsutoya, Darren JohnstonMartin Sulzer and LaTurbo Avedon, as part of a residency at Metal Liverpool, and performed at CTM and Krems’ Donaufestival that same year. 

An essay written by Matsutoya and Laurel Halo, called ‘The multiplicity of Hatsune Miku‘ is published alongside the release of the two videos, exploring the history of the dispersed avatar artist and her global impact in greater detail, following her birth by (literal) design by Crypton Future Media developers in 2007 and her growth at the hands of her fans ever since:

“She is both the receptive and reflective vessel of her fans; a depository for the emotions, ambitions and talents of would-be pop songwriters, producers and recording artists; a voice singing songs written by the masses, for the masses.”

The music of ‘Until I Make U Smile,’ along with ‘As You Wish,’ is made up of original compositions and visuals by the aforementioned group of artists but with lyrics collected from the songs of the various parallel and fan-created personalities of Hatsune Miku. That’s from the stereotypical teen girl tropes of “love, longing, cute boys, general insecurity” to the logical outcome of so much manipulation and control with “a fair amount of angst over impermanence and power imbalance within her songs.”

In advance of the next live show, you can view the two videos (above) in 360° playback or in full 3D with the appropriate headgear. The titles of these videos alone are a haunting nod to this 21st century cyber celebrity’s role as a perpetually teenaged projection of collective fantasy — alone and objectified, functional. Sourcing lyrics collected and randomised from other Hatsune Miku songs like ‘Karakuri Pierot,’ ‘Tachycardia,’ ‘Kosuro Voc@loid’ and ‘Maigo no Ribon,’ they span the decade-long life of the forever 16-years-old vocal synthesizer software and virtual idol who has become the crowd-sourced voice of an era.** 

Hatsune Miku’s ‘Still Be Here’ is on at London’s Barbican Centre on February 26, 2017.