You could argue that all Pop stars are created, but not to the same extent as Hatsune Miku. Starting life as a vocaloid program created by Japanese developers, and evolving into a full-blown virtual Pop star and cyber celebrity with hit singles worldwide and sellout stadium performances, she comes to the Barbican in Still Be Here.
Following an idea initiated and conceptualized by artist Mari Matsutoya, Still Be Here is collectively created with music producer Laurel Halo, award-winning choreographer and visual artist Darren Johnston, virtual artist LaTurbo Avedon and visual artist Martin Sulzer. Still Be Here is more than just a mesmerising virtual reality experience - with Hatsune Miku taking form on stage as a 3D projection, looking at once eerily real and like something from a different world, a narrative begins to take shape as she performs. Lyrics question the role of the Pop star in the 21st Century, the commodification of the female body, and notions of identity.
Hatsune Miku is much more than just an animated star. With anyone able to buy the software and use it to start producing music and program dance moves for her, an ever-growing global community of fans has developed around her. All the music she releases and performs live is created by that community, making her a collectively-constructed Pop star, and a representation of the evolution of digital music technology, crowdsourcing, and creative collaboration. Still Be Here plays on that idea, investigating how Hatsune Miku, and indeed Pop stars in general can be something onto which we project our own desires.
Please note that this is an art project authorised by Crypton Future Media, but is not an official Hatsune Miku show.
We spoke to Mari Matsutoya and Darren Johnston for the latest Contemporary Music podcast, listen here: