Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Final Performance Is a Virtual-Only Engagement

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Final Performance Is a Virtual-Only Engagement Leave a comment

Ryuichi Sakamoto is hunched over a grand piano, carrying a black swimsuit and his customary tortoiseshell eyeglasses. The room round him is drenched in darkness, with no different textures seen however the freckles on his face and the shiny shine of the Yamaha. After which he lifts his fingers and lets them fall again on the keys. They begin to sing underneath his contact.

The efficiency lasts about 45 minutes. The Oscar-winning composer performs 10 of his personal compositions, and on the finish of each piece, folks clap. Not me at first, however I make up for it with tears, which first construct up in my throat, then stream down my cheeks. When it is over, Sakamoto does not bow and stroll off the stage; he handed away in March this yr after a years-long battle with most cancers. He simply fades into black as I take off the headset I’m carrying.

Kagami, because the music efficiency is named, is a mixed-reality present on view by July 9 at The Shed in Manhattan and at Factory International in Manchester, with runs on the Sydney Opera Home and the Huge Ears Pageant in Knoxville, Tennessee, up subsequent. The present begins with 80 folks sitting in a circle round completely nothing. After every concertgoer has slid on a Magic Leap 2 headset, a digital Sakamoto seems within the middle of the circle. The musician then performs as you mosey “round” him, being ever so cautious to not bump right into a piano that doesn’t exist—or your fellow attendees, who do.

Kagami—Japanese for “mirror”—was designed by the manufacturing studio Tin Drum, and fuses a 3D mannequin of Sakamoto with the actual world, leading to an expertise that feels materials and ethereal without delay. It’s a part of an ever-growing cohort of musical experimentations with AR and VR. Within the thick of the pandemic in 2020, Billie Eilish carried out a livestreamed concert jazzed up with prolonged actuality results that turned the stage into a depressing ocean flooring and a star-studded sky. In 2022, Gorillaz took over New York’s Instances Sq., then London’s Piccadilly Circus, as AR know-how brought the band’s characters to life on large screens. The listing goes on to incorporate Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Travis Scott, most of whom began to dabble with mixed-reality throughout the pandemic.

With Kagami, the story started then, too. As Tin Drum founder Todd Eckert remembers it, he and Sakamoto have been sitting in Ecker’s condominium in early 2020, kicking across the thought of a mixed-reality experiment. On the time, the musician did not know the most cancers he had recovered from years prior had come again. “Possibly he stated sure as a result of he had missed two years [of performing] with therapy for his most cancers earlier than,” says Eckert. Or possibly he stated sure due to his fascination with technology.

Quick ahead to November 2020, and each males flew from New York Metropolis, the place they have been primarily based, to locked-down Tokyo, one in every of solely two cities on the planet with the setup essential to seize Sakamoto in 3D and generate a digital mannequin of him utilizing volumetric and movement seize know-how. The session lasted three days, throughout which Sakamoto performed his compositions underneath the scrutiny of 48 cameras, numerous microphones, and lightboxes.

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