Watching Imogen Heap dance her way through cyber visuals and glowing-LED percussion, it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching a special effect. What was once a hypothetical, speculative scenario in sci-fi is now just what Imogen is doing with gloves and sensors. At the same time, the lineage to artists like Pamela Z or Laurie Anderson is clear, too. Now the question is, what’s next?

“Me the Machine” debuted in a performance on her gloves. The music really is one that she can play with wearable tech. The music video just adds visualization to that performance – and, in the process, demonstrates another point of the glove system. It’s designed to be able to transmit data to anything you like, visuals or robotics or any output you desire.

Our friend Miho Tanaka makes the gestural visualization tool AirMakr with Roman Miletitch and sends this in. Miho connected with Imogen at the CDM-hosted MusicMakers Hacklab 2013 with CTM Festival.

And the timing is key: with three days left, Mi.Mu is some distance from its goal.

For more background on the project:
How Gloves and Wearable Tech Could Change Music Performance: In Depth with Imogen Heap and Team

Imogen, dwarfed by the visuals. Yes, they shot this live on a stage. Photo: Adrian Lausch.

Imogen, dwarfed by the visuals. Yes, they shot this live on a stage. Photo: Adrian Lausch.

Miho shares some other notes with us:

- As mentioned, the whole thing was initiated when I met Imogen and her team at the gloves workshop

- Imogen and her team showed a keen interest in Airmarkr, as we were both dealing with the same kind of motion track problem solving and the possibility of a collaboration came up, and so I pitched her some visual concept ideas.

- six months later, Imogen got in touch to ask if AirMarkr would be interested in a collaboration to make the visuals for her very first music video using the gloves, so Roman was flown over to work with her team.

- Roman Miletitch was introduced to the AirMarkr team because of his previous project Calligraphie, 3D, and his ongoing work with the research team visualising the gestures of sign language (skip to start from 0:33)

- As Artistic Director of AirMarkr, Roman has been responsible for making the output of the motion tracking a thing of delight and beauty.

- Roman is currently finishing his Ph.D on Artificial Intelligence and Swarm Robotics.

Credits:

Two years to the day since Imogen unveiled the first version of ‘Me The Machine’ with her Mi.Mu Gloves, here’s the official music video!

Back the Gloves on Kickstarter: http://immi.fm/mimukick
Pre-order the “Sparks” deluxe box set: http://immi.fm/ihdeluxe

New album “Sparks” coming soon…

Imogen said: “Today is Earth Day and 2 years ago I performed the first version of Me The Machine written with and for my Mi.Mu gloves. I am dying to let you hear the album but I have to wait, but today I want to let you hear and see the studio version and the additional music video. Hope you really enjoy it! Most of the visuals are being manipulated live using my Mi.Mu gloves as I didn’t just want to mime. So I went one step further and worked with the team on getting the gloves ready for visual manipulations.”

Video concept: Imogen Heap
Shot at the Roundhouse, Camden on 8/9th Dec 2013.
Thanks to Marcus, Dave and Sarah at the Roundhouse and the students from

http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/take-part

Ersinhan Ersin: Director/set design/co-editor
Co Director and Editor: Leo Fawkes
Producer: Marta Sala Font
Production management and design: Liz Berry
Visual/glove integration, sound: Adam Stark
Visual/glove integration, Kelly Snook
Visual Artist. Dandelion seeds, growing structures: Ersinhan Ersin
Visual Artist, Particle man visuals: Kirk Woolford
Visual Artist, Geometric landscapes: Mox
Visual Artist, AirMarkr / scribbler visuals: Roman Miletitch
PA: Catherine Bentley
PA: Jennie Fagerstrom
Adrian Lausch: Time Lapse photography
Rigger: Simon Ambrose
Roundhouse Tech: Simeon Bate and Steve Royle
Projectionists: Richard Dieckmann and Matthieu Lachenal
First Assistant Director: Jamie Roberts
Director of Photography: Will Hanke
Second Camera Operator: Will Williamson
Camera Assistant: Guy Gotto
Steadicam operator Ben Marshall
Focus Puller Ryan Parkins
Assistant/Runner: Charlotte Sterland and Pippa Riddick
Runners: Tess Faria, Katarina Valaskova, Harry Balding, Sana Hall, Linzi Ann Mangan
DIT: Libby Knowles, Aidan Stimson
Outfit Designer: Rachel Freire
Outfit Designer Assistant: Rebecca Elley
3D printed pieces made by Igor Knesevic
Stylist: Sabina Emria
Styling Assistant: Liz Denson
Hair and Make Up Artist: Oscar Alexander Lundberg:
Thanks also to Miho Tanaka & Roman Miletitch for AirMarkr gestural visualisations – www.airmarkr.com
Camera Assistant: Hannibal Morris
Grading by MIke Prior

  • griotspeak

    From what I can tell, the gloves are 750 pounds sterling. I like the idea but that is too much for an impulse buy.

  • sigh

    *sigh* as much as I love the concept – and I love it a lot – I personally can’t justify spending £750 per glove.

    • dave birney

      i like the idea of it, the more options the better i think, but i still cant get that excited about it really. especially after using the leap motion for controlling music, which is good and all, but after a while the novelty wears off and your arms get sore and you realise that using xy screens/knobs/pads and actually do a far better job. in most cases anyway

    • sigh

      Yeah. I had a different but also very similar experience with Google Glass last year. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I have to watch myself with spending money on gadgets that I *want* to like.

      I *did* pre-order an AUUG unit for $99. It may ultimately be a waste, but if I can keep things in the double digits, well, that’s some progress.

  • Jacko

    Awkward. Gloves, the keytar of the 2010s.

  • jrmedd

    Wow. I just couldn’t get past those lyrics. As soon as she sang ‘downloading romance’ I wanted to vomit.

    • Dr Strange

      Seriously? You are criticizing her lyrics? Please let us see some of your amazing work so we can we can judge you from the anonymity of our basements. I would also recommend you see and doctor soon. Your vomiting problem might be the dreaded “verbal diarrhea”.

    • jrmedd

      Yikes, I’ll as the doc if he can recommend an anger management guy while I’m there. Sorry, I just find the inclusion of words like ‘algorithm’ and ‘soft circuits’ a little contrived and transparently shoehorned in, especially for a performer who is putting herself at the forefront of technological performance (in pop music, at least). They distracted me from an otherwise sound composition. You’ve got to admit that “A pin code to happiness; access denied” is a little tacky, right?

      In terms of the hardware, I think it’s unusual, but I’m still wondering why everyone’s so preoccupied with the ‘Minority Report’ effect. I find the lack of tactility with interfaces such as the Kinect and Leap Motion difficult to adjust to. The cost is prohibitive too, and a little steep considering the cost of individual components. Kudos to her for open sourcing the design though.

      Sorry if I offended you with my initial comments anyway, they weren’t intended as flamebait.

    • Jacko

      Really?

      The “don’t criticize something unless you do it better” argument?

      Strange, I haven’t seen any Oscar winning movies directed by Roger Ebert, or many rock albums written by Greil Marcus or Lester Bangs…

      Listeners ARE supposed to react and criticize artistic works — that’s the very definition of an active listener (as opposed to an idiot who can only tell things like “I like it because I like it”).

    • dave birney

      yea youre not the only one. im not a big fan of that type of lyrics myself

    • vroom lao phen

      agree, too. i like some of her stuff but this seemed… not as good.

  • wetterberg

    I hate to join the chorus here, but it’s too damned expensive. I just refuse to accept that a project like this costs 200.000 pounds to launch properly. No way.

  • Bob Rawkz

    Contrived music to gratify gimmick gadgets. Shamefully painful.

  • B.

    A love song for RTFM.

  • jrmedd

    Breaking the costs down a little more, I really don’t understand why they’re charging so much for these gloves, and I also cannot tell why there isn’t more actual hardware development going on here. Compared to a Kickstarter project such as castAR, which is being developed from the ground up – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/technicalillusions/castar-the-most-versatile-ar-and-vr-system – these guys look to be integrating lots of products that I’d expect them to create themselves, given what they’re charging.

    Parts:

    X-OSC board (inc. battery & charger) – £180 – http://www.x-io.co.uk/products/x-osc/

    They’re definitely using this (it’s quoted in their kit list) and it’s odd that they wouldn’t DIY this with Arduino, or even the parts that make up an Arduino. They’re paying a premium to integrate someone else’s product.

    5 Flex sensors – £23.54 – https://www.adafruit.com/products/1070

    They suggest Flexpoint sensors at http://theglovesproject.com/materials/ but I’ve never seen that much variation in performance between different manufacturers. You can even DIY them pretty easily: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Bend-Sensor-Using-only-Velostat-and-Masking-T/

    Programmable RGB LED – £2.93 for 5 – https://www.adafruit.com/products/1612

    They suggest BlinkM at The Glove Project, but Neopixels are what all the cool kids are using these days. They’re superbright and can be chained up from one pin on Arduino and remain individually addressable.

    Vibration motor – £1.15 – https://www.adafruit.com/products/1201

    Dirt cheap, all pretty much the same.

    So I make that £207.62 for the main components (including the overly expensive X-OSC, which I’d really expect them to DIY given how much they’re charging). £750 gets you all of the parts you need to make them so £542.38 covers the materials and remaining components, which surely get a lot cheaper at higher volumes. £1200 for a constructed glove? That’s expensive labour.

  • Chompy

    I love Imogen but she’s been progressively substituting more gimmicks and weirdness for actual musical goodness. Her lyrics also keep getting cheesier. The gloves are a little too Stelarc for my taste. I’m not sure why people are into the Minority Report thing, it’s like the theraminization of computing. Personally I think it would be cooler if someone devised a giant midi controller that was like the tardis control panel in Dr. Who.

  • Marsha Vdovin

    You should check out the work of Laetitia Sonami who worked with Michel Waiviez at Steim to make gloves almost 20 years ago.

  • jennings

    Those lyrics are shockingly bad

  • greg fanandel

    You guys should (or not) check Emilie Simon and her glove from, like, the last 6 years or so.. Ircam people.

  • Marco Donnarumma

    I’m not commenting on the technology, as the commentaries here and around the web are self-explanatory. However, the comparison with Laurie Anderson doesn’t really make sense. Anderson used truly *new* technologies at a
    time when those were being developed since a couple of years in research
    labs only. Heap is using a technology that is over 23 years old, that
    has also been commercialised (see the Power Glove), and with a long
    tradition, that she does not acknowledge in any of her TED talks.

    See: http://sonami.net/works/ladys-glove/ from 1991.

    Without considering that wearable technology have gone way beyond this kind of technology.

    Image: Sewing Lady no.5 directly on hand
    (B.Bongers & Y. Harris) from Sonami.net linked above.

  • http://lasolutionauxregimes.fr/ hamiseady

    Anyone who has resided in both apartheid Southern African-american and Israel knows that the example is wrong and evil. Apartheid was a program of government where a white-colored community subjugated the dark inhabitants and the “superior” white-colored wines could not associate with or even sit on a regular with the “inferior” dark individuals. In Israel, Jewish people and Arabs discuss community areas, vehicles and educational institutions. In Israel all people – Jew and Arabic as well – are equivalent before the law.

    Spybubble

  • edscerbo

    Are those visuals really visible to an audience without use of special glasses or anything? How does that work? Where are they projected from and how do they appear to be 3D hanging in the air?

    • Roman

      Yep, visuals are visible to a an audience (front enough if you want the display to be centred on Imogen). The movement visualisations are projected from the audience side, on a black thin (so semi transparent) piece of cloth.

  • edscerbo

    I suggest you all click the link above to the other article Peter wrote on this.

    Some of this discussion makes me think of a person who would say something like “What do we need with a Testarossa? We already had the Model T a hundred years ago!”

    As for the comments on the music itself, whether they are subjectively true for you or not, this article is not the place for them. It would be appropriate to express those opinions on the YouTube page for the video, but not so much here.

    • just passing

      Ooh, do please tell us why “I need a Testarossa” is EVER a valid statement under ANY conditions.

      (Unless you’re too busy with your job as Peter Kirn’s comment policeman, that is. I hope he’s paying you respectably; it’s a dirty job.)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      No one’s addressing the core questions, actually.

      Aesthetics of the video aside, are there technical reasons that this glove is more expressive than the current state of other people doing this work. And the question then isn’t is it too expensive, or too expensive for Kickstarter (in the end, it was, with their 200k GBP goal). It’d be, is that cost justified somehow in the design? Or were there other ways apart from this funding project to bring the costs down?

      I could go on…

      Actually, as it happens, *I’m* not convinced about any of those things, personally. But everyone else being critical here, as near as I can tell, is dumping on the video or dumping on the project or me somehow and yet not asking that obvious questions.

    • just passing

      Funnily enough, I wrote a reply to edscerbo’s comment, in which I stated that whether the gloves contained sufficient utility or novelty to justify the cost was *exactly* the criticism I’d seen other people making… but then I decided not to post it because one snarky comment from me was probably enough (and hell, I can’t be the only person to have seen that, can I?).

      However, we do need to talk about your comments. I know everyone wants to have a laissez-faire comment policy on their blog, but it really isn’t possible any more. And you’ve been tolerating trolls and trivia for years, Peter; indeed, when you do intervene, you tend rather too much towards “don’t feed the trolls” victim-blaming. Are you really surprised that there’s nobody left to ask the questions you want to see discussed? I only comment when something pisses me off, now; there’s no point otherwise, there’s no community or discussion to be found here any more.

  • edscerbo

    Oh, and also, can no one imagine the gloves being an intermediate technology on the way to real time gestural recognition to achieve the same control with no wearable apparatus at all?