Written by Alain de Leonardis • Photography by Michael Loccisano / Staff, Getty • December 21, 2016
Maybe you’re familiar with Kinect, the motion sensing devices for Xbox and Windows PC, because, among other things, you love playing Kinect Sports with your grandma. But the same technology has opened up a new avenue of creativity for musicians.
Using Kinect components found in most toy or electronics stores, bands can now team up with coders and visual artists to create reactive, immersive environments that used to be the province of only the biggest stars and most expensive tours.
Credit Microsoft, the company behind Kinect, for recognizing the possibilities and launching their Music x Technology series to foster the creative nexus of music, art and tech. The company has teamed up with acts such as Phantogram, Grimes, and Neon Indian to deliver forward-thinking musical experiences marked by exhilarating displays of colors and shapes for stage shows and interactive displays at festivals.
German electronic duo Sissy Rada a and animation studio Schnellebuntebilder recently made use of Kinect technology to produce this remarkable music video, truly a stunning example of digital motion art.
When Kinect technology was first introduced in 2010, it took the gaming world by storm, offering a new, controller-less way of interacting with the worlds developed by game designers and coders. Instead of testing users’ manual dexterity with an ergonomically designed piece of plastic, Kinect required them simply to move their bodies. Kinect components, including an advanced infrared camera, sensors and a microphone, translated that motion into commands to control the onscreen action. This approach was intended to invite an entirely new demographic—those previously uninterested in conventional video games—to engage with sports, dance, fitness and other activities that helped broaden the definition of gaming in the 21st century.
Although much of the initial commercial enthusiasm for Kinect has died down over the past few years, the technology has found new life in the hands of artists and musicians who have recognized the possibility of tapping into its vast potential.
Indie and emerging musicians now have access to compelling new visual expressions to add to their performances, enabling them to establish more deeply emotional—and more memorable—connections with fans while exploring the ever-expanding intersection between music and digital visual arts.