Photos by Takanori Kuroda
Damon Albarn, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman, released his first solo album Everyday Robots this April. Fittingly, two special guests were in the audience for a small performance yesterday at Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). Included in the crowd of fifty were two androids: Otonaroid®, a life-like female, and Telenoid®, a more abstract human form. Both sat front row and waited for Albarn to take the stage as a thunderstorm raged outside. With every bolt of lightning the museum's giant Geo Cosmos globe flashed with blue light, further adding to the otherwordly atmosphere of the event.
The mini concert began at 7pm. Albarn sang as he played an electric piano, performing a total of four songs including “Everyday Robots” and “Hollow Ponds” from his new album as well as Blur songs “Strange News From Another Star” and “Out of Time.”
During the show, Otonaroid® moved her body in time with Albarn’s performance. She hummed along to the lyrics, and her expressions seemed to change when the melody would take a sad turn or during up-tempo parts of the songs. After finishing all of his songs, Albarn approached his special Otonaroid® guest and bowed to her while looking her in the eyes. Otonaroid® seemed very happy and bowed in return.
In an interview after the show, Albarn stated the following:
“It was interesting performing alongside the androids. While they definitely look artificial up close, when seen at a distance they look like normal people. They’re fake, but they’re also real. I mean, they’re definitely there. But, I don’t think the fact that robots are completely alien will ever change. So in that sense technology is perhaps a bit melancholic.”
Albarn’s performance at the Miraikan offered at a possible glimpse at a future where robots are a natural part of our everyday lives. But, for those of us living in the present, it was a surreal scene that was a bit like touching upon a different dimension. It could be that the music Albarn played in that setting gave us a brief taste of what it’s like when our innate human senses and technology naturally come into sync with each other.
Stay tuned to The Creators Project for an exclusive video of the performance.