Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Imogen Heap + Ariana Grande + Mimu Gloves

From what I've gathered so far, there has definitely been a lot of discussion amongst the PAT department about Imogen Heap's Mimu gloves. They definitely seem to function more as a controller than instrument in my opinion, especially due to the fact that they can be applied across such a wide variety of instrument sounds. One thing that they do great, however, is create new ways to perform music and control effects.

While looking more into Imogen Heap's work I actually came across a video of pop musician Ariana Grande performing live with Mimi gloves. There are actually several videos of her doing this at different concerts, so she did it on at least one of her tours.

Here are a couple videos (I apologize in advance, as the quality is not great on all of them):

(In this second video, anything regarding the gloves is done after about 3:30)

In the second video, you can see there is actually in introduction by Imogen Heap about the gloves, which also features a video of Ariana doing a cover of an Imogen Heap early in her career. The video isn't perfect, but one thing I really take away from it is how the crowd reacts to the different ways the effects are controlled (even though the screams are very annoying). What I think is great about this is it shows young people reacting to new performance system that have been featured at NIME. This shows that these new systems can be accessible at a greater scale if we want them to be. I find this exciting, because so many great things are done in developing new interfaces and instruments but I feel that sometimes they don't get introduced to large enough audiences.

There is also a "tour diaries" video that shows Ariana Grande practicing with the gloves. In this video she clearly is having the gloves interface with a voicelive touch 2 vocal effects processor. I have used these processors many times, and based on what I know, the effect Grande is getting are coming from the voicelive. Basically, she just uses the gloves as a 3D control. Another thing I noticed is that her gestures are very limited, and I wonder whether she lacks skill or if there is just not that much to control. Here's the video:

Overall, I think it is great that a new interface like this is getting exposure in the realm of popular music. It is not nearly enough, but it is a good start. I think this also might motivate some people to consider how are instruments could be used on a larger stage. It would be really cool to keep seeing things like this show up in pop music, and even cooler to see it get better.

I would love to hear that thought of others regarding this. For or against, I think it is definitely something worth talking about.

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