Monday, February 27, 2012

Vocaloid Portraits

Miku Hatsune, 16 x 22 inches, acrylic on museum board on foam board, 2010

Prima, 16 x 12 inches, acrylic on museum board on foam board, 2010

A decade ago Yamaha developed a synthesized voice that could be used for musical recording.  The individualized computer programs were called vocaloids®.  The first ones were primitive and mechanical sounding, but later vocaloids sounded pretty good, especially singing in Japanese.  (The language seems more suitable than English for this and, frankly, most J-pop singers sound like vocaloids anyway.)  To successfully market them, images and identities were developed for each vocaloid.   The superstar of Japanese vocaloids remains Miku Hatsune (or is Hatsune Miku more correct?).  From her initial recording of a Finnish polka and a smashing version of 70's folk song Misaki Meguri (one of my all-time favorite songs), she has gone on to become a virtual diva, even recently giving a concert in Chicago.  You Tube features many Miku videos with some very delightful songs.  She is portrayed variously in the chiba form, a squat, simple drawing, as an air-brushed anime image, and in a 3-D version.  She wears a variation of a school-girl's costumes and has very long turquoise hair.  In painting her, I drew upon the conventional images, but imagined that she is a real person.  As a companion, I also did a picture of the operatic diva Prima.  Althouhg it isn't something I currently have time for, I would love to purchase the software for Miku and see if I can program her to sing some of the songs I have written over the years.  

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