News: Squarepusher Music Video Layers Tokyo, Japan with Augmented Reality Through the Lenses of Concept Smartglasses

Squarepusher Music Video Layers Tokyo, Japan with Augmented Reality Through the Lenses of Concept Smartglasses

Legendary drum-and-bass artist Squarepusher, the Warp records labelmate of fellow electronic music legend Aphex Twin, is back with his fifteenth album called Be Up a Hello, which is set to drop on Feb. 1.

To kick off the launch, the artist has just released an amazing new music video for the song "Terminal Slam," and the star of the audio-visual assault is augmented reality.

The scene is Tokyo, Japan, specifically, the famed Shibuya crossing area. There, we see a woman pull out a pair of (fictional) AR smartglasses. It's at that moment that the camera view switches to first-person and we see how the AR smartglasses transform her view of the dense, neon-layered megacity.

Image by Squarepusher/YouTube

But the video isn't the result of some new video artist jumping on the immersive computing bandwagon. Instead, it was directed by Japanese director Daito Manabe, who has been experimenting with AR, VR, photogrammetry, body tracking, and various forms of data visualization for well over a decade.

Manabe, who co-founded the Japan-based tech-meets-art production company Rhizomatiks, has also worked with the likes of Bjork for her live-streamed VR performance, and music group Perfume, who performed live using motion capture to allow the group to interact with a 3D graphic immersive stage floor and background.

Image by Squarepusher/YouTube

His latest work frames Squarepusher's musical assault with a kaleidoscope of visuals that feature what appear to be examples of machine learning-powered object and image recognition, background segmentation, and motion tracking.

Later, traveling through the streets of Ebisu, the video gets even more surreal when signs and buildings are transformed into 3D waveforms that pulse in rhythm with the music.

In some ways, the video is reminiscent of Keiichi Matsuda "Hyper Reality" video, but instead of a cinematic science fiction representation of AR, Manabe's video looks a lot more like the current and near-term reality of AR in practice, full of glitches, ephemeral data trails, and tracking artifacts.

The look could be due to Manabe using real-world AR tools to craft the video, but we haven't been able to confirm exactly how the video was produced. Still, like the aforementioned video, "Terminal Slam" paints a somewhat dark vision of AR smartglasses. But rather than a virtual advertiser attack, it seems this is what an AR-laced city might look like if you had your AR ad block setting to: ON.

In that context, suddenly, AR advertisements don't look so bad anymore. Nevertheless, Manabe's video is a beautiful vision of our AR smartglasses near future.

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Cover image via Squarepusher/YouTube

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