Ryuichi Sakamoto digitally performs his masterpieces
A homage to one of the great losses in the music industry, The Shed and mixed-reality studio Tin Drum brings back pioneering music composer and artist Ryuichi Sakamoto on stage to perform his music through the blend of physical and digital mediums. KAGAMI, the staged concert of the late composer, is a new kind of mixed-reality concert experienced via optically transparent devices with headsets that project the virtual figure of Sakamoto performing one of his final projects on piano. The setting immerses the audience in an environment that combines digital performance with the physical world.
In the show, dimensional moving photography is fused with advanced technology to bring out the lifelike nature of Sakamoto’s figure, presence, and performance. As his fingers play on the keys, visual effects surround him that pass through the optical lenses the viewers wear, creating an operatic and theatrical concert for and on Sakamoto. A set of 10 original compositions – including well-known works Energy Flow and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, along with rarely-played pieces, such as The Seed and the Sower – is set to be played. The show is set to have its world premiere at The Shed between June 7th and July 2nd, 2023.
header: New York Philharmonic concert at The Shed on April 15th, 2021 | image: Ryuichi Sakamoto, photo by Luigi & Iango | images courtesy of The Shed
The Shed’s griffin theater hosts kagami
Upon entering The Shed’s Griffin Theater, the audience members receive a headset to immerse themselves in the cinematic and dimensional performance of Sakamoto for KAGAMI, who sits down at his Yamaha concert grand piano and plays his masterpieces alongside a series of visual art – such as the undulating, floating lightbulbs – to accompany each song in his performance. The audience experiences his music in surround sound, a lullaby that pulls them into his composing and artistic realm, all while reminding them of his ingenious musical craftsmanship.
The hour-long performance of Ryuichi Sakamoto in KAGAMI can be enjoyed by up to 150 people at once, seated in the round. Yet their position isn’t fixed: viewers can also be wanderers should they feel like it. As soon as the performance plays on, they are free to explore the expansive space of The Shed’s Griffin Theater on their feet, traversing corners while basking in the harmonious playing of Sakamoto trailing behind every step they take. KAGAMI is also slated to be presented at the 2023 Manchester International Festival in the United Kingdom, continuing in 2024 to the Sydney Opera House and Big Ears Festival.
KAGAMI uses mixed reality to bring back Ryuichi Sakamoto in a digital concert
The composer-artist reflects on KAGAMI
Ryuichi Sakamoto established an acclaimed, decades-long body of work spanning electronic music, classical composition, dance music, and global performance. His celebrated film scores include The Revenant and The Sheltering Sky, and he won the Academy Award for his work on The Last Emperor. Earlier in 2023, Sakamoto penned a reflection on KAGAMI that lives on and graces the event for the viewers’ pleasure:
There is, in reality, a virtual me.
This virtual me will not age, and will continue to play the piano for years,
Will there be humans then?
Will the squids that will conquer the earth after humanity listen to me?
What will pianos be to them?
What about music?
Will there be empathy there?
Empathy that spans hundreds of thousands of years.
Ah, but the batteries won’t last that long.
the show is taking place in The Shed’s Griffin Theater
composer and artist: Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952 – 2023)
director: Todd Eckert
mixed-reality studio: TinDrum
venue: Griffin Theater in The Shed
location: The Bloomberg Building, 545 West 30th Street, New York City
matthew burgos | designboom
may 19, 2023