Hatsune Miku, posthuman pop star

Wired's James Verini, on just how real Japan's real-life Rei Toei is:

Miku was “born,” as Itoh puts it, on August 31, 2007, with the launch of her software. The program would soon become popular, but from the start Miku attracted her own fans, and they began riffing. Crypton set up a site where they could post their creations, and by that first afternoon, according to Itoh, illustrations of her had appeared. Thousands followed. Fan sites proliferated. Creation myths were assembled.


  1. Ever since I first saw that they were doing this, I wanted someone to use it to make a “live” Gorillaz show…

    1. He actually stopped writing “futuristic” science fiction (a la Neuromancer, the Bridge trilogy, etc.) and started setting everything in the present day because he felt that the “weirdness” was escalating so much – ” I was starting to be haunted by a feeling that the world itself was so weird and so rich in cognitive dissonance, for me, that I had lost the capacity to measure just how weird it was”

      1. Virtual pop stars were the central premise behind two very different anime in 1994: Macross Plus and Key the Metal Idol…

    1. All the argument is very strange if you are an unsuccessful musician with a lifetime of songs. 
      I don’t get what there is to argue about though? To me there is no difference between a manufactured pop star with a human body owned primarily by a record company, and a manufactured pop star who is LITERALLY manufactured and cooperatively owned by fans.

      Actually, now that I think of it the latter sounds more human.

      All that said… the sound… the sound.

    2. I read the article, thought it was pretty good, particularly compared
      to some others I’ve read. Then bam, the very first comment is a long angry rant by a hyper sensitive fan who perceives slights where there are none. Some fans seem to think anything short of glowing adulation is an attack on what they like. I thought it was even more bizarre that they thought the writer was a mundane when he actually dropped a boatload of hints that he’s an otaku too.

  2. I’d hardly call this “posthuman”. Rather, the key behavior at work is a rather ancient human act – anthropomorphization.

    When you build a machine and ascribe it human characteristics, you aren’t actually making the machine more “human” in any way. You’re simply building up a convenient self deception. By fooling ourselves into accepting a machine as human, or as nearly human, we trigger our own hardwired social responses. If a machine “smiles”, we physiologically respond to that visual, ascribing an emotional state to an object which can possess none, and we respond ourselves as if the emotion was genuine rather than imagined.

    “Hatsune Miku” is a jointly accepted avatar for what is essentially collaborative human creative efforts. It’s a symbolic representation of both a specific set of software, and the interactions between users of said software to produce music and visuals.

    In a way, it’s very much akin to concepts such as “Justice” being blind, or to “Lady Luck” granting her favor. The underlying reality is complex and difficult to comprehend quickly or fully, so a symbol is used in place of the full concept: a shorthand stand-in which is simpler and more relatable. Justice goes from being a convoluted social construct that exists as an abstract collaborative agreement of sorts, to being a human figure which interacts with out most basic communal instincts. We translate from the language of a complex system into the language of human interaction. A beautiful, powerful, blind woman easily evokes certain responses in us, as humans – while complicated laws, legal proceedings, debates, and arguments typically do not, and even when they do it is over a much greater period of time.

    Is the phenomenon of interactive social symbolic gestalt, which Hatsune Miku respresents, an interesting topic? Sure, in its own way. But it isn’t posthuman, and it needs to be properly understood as such.

  3. Crypton Future Media has done very little if anything to interfere with Miku and her fans and as a result NicoNico (Japan’s unique youTube-ish counterpart) became the petri dish for her cultural growth. Mutations, Remixes, and Mythos have proliferated and Miku is now as much a cultural icon as her human counterparts. What makes Miku so amazing is the fact that she is powered by a strong community of dedicated creative communities – all composed of very real human beings. 

    Though elaborating would require an entire article, I personally feel that IP holders in the US could learn a lot from CFM’s stance on Miku and the usage of her character/mythos instead of firing a spray of lawsuit bullets at their own fans. 

  4. Strangeness and weirdness aside, the vocaloid software has actually been used to make some really good songs. 
    It turns out there are a lot of people who know good music but just needed a ‘voice’ to sing for them.
    It is worth the effort to check it out.

    This is a personal favourite of mine:
    Megurine Luka – Tower 

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