What do 'bots think of Damon Albarn's new tunes? We took a trip to Damon Albarn's live performance for androids at Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) to find out.
Photos by Tadamasa Iguchi
When legendary multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and Mercury Prize-shortlisted singer-songwriter Damon Albarn played a live acoustic concert of his debut solo album, Everyday Robots, as well as other Blur favorites, at Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) in Tokyo, he had two special guests in the audience: lifelike female android Otonaroid®, and abstract human robot, Telenoid®.
The Creators Project was on hand to film the performance. Above, check out our documentary on Damon Albarn's concert for androids.
If there's one thing that's characterized Albarn's decades-long musical career, it's a willingness to innovate. Explains Albarn, "I love new technology. I mean, that's why I love coming to Japan. As a musician, the first thing you do when you get here is go to a music shop and buy the latest gadget. I've always been slightly ahead in that way." As a result, it wasn't a major leap of faith for Albarn to perform at the Miraikan.
"For someone who's quite fearful of the transition we're going through, this place explains a lot of stuff in the process. It's just so dedicated to the now, and the future. There seems to be a kind of artistic soul at the center of this place. It's a great museum."
As fans and museumgoers looked on, two audience members seemed to be having a particularly good time. Telenoid®, who isn't featured in video footage, but who is viewable below, took front row at the performance, while Otonaroid® could be seen moving her body, and humming along to the lyrics. "When I was invited to sing to an android—that's not the thing you get asked every day. You have to get really close to not believe that they might be a person. I suppose it's just that complete sense of otherness, isn't it? For us to really engage with them, they have to look like us."
While it was definitely a new experience for Albarn, it wasn't without its own source of inspiration. "Each experience informs the next, and that's what this place is really about. It's really about that interaction between technology and humans, and so I think it's a natural place for me to come to."
While we may never know whether Otonaroid® went to bed with lyrics from Everyday Robots stuck in her head or not, it wouldn't be far off to suggest that somewhere in her memory banks lies a newfound fondness for piano ballads. For Albarn, it might even be something he uses on future albums. "As always, it's terrifying and very inspiring, which is really how I feel about technology," Albarn told The Creators Project. "I might write a song about singing to an android now."
For more information about Damon Albarn's debut solo album, Everyday Robots, visit: http://www.damonalbarnmusic.com/