Finding the Soul of the Machine With Violinist Mari Kimura

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In the final session, “The Soul of the Machine,” Mari Kimura, a violinist, composer and teacher of Interactive Computer Music Performance at The Julliard School, performed while wearing a sensor-enabled glove that fed motion data into a music algorithm to produce unique sounds and sights.
In the final session of the 2017 VM Summit, “The Soul of the Machine,” Mari Kimura, a violinist and teacher of Interactive Computer Music Performance at The Juilliard School, entertained the audience though a performance wearing a sensor-enabled glove.

Before getting into her performance, Kimura explained “the funny journey” she has embarked on from being a “very normal violinist, a classical good girl” to now entering into her distinctive work as a violinist who enhances the technical and expressive capabilities of music composition through the use of artificial intelligence (a Wi-Fi router and a motion sensor). Kimura, who lived next door to AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, said that he was the one who suggested she first start composing in this way.

The glove that Kimura wore on her bowing hand while playing has electrodes that monitor the angle and speed of her bowing arm. This tracked her movements as she performed, feeding the data into a laptop which used an algorithm to process it and produce its own unique sounds.

Partnering science with creativity, Kimura was able to produce a beautiful human-machine duet that delighted the audience as she performed.

Kimura is at the forefront of violinists who are extending the technical and expressive capabilities of the instrument. She is widely admired as the inventor of “Subharmonics”, and also premiered many works, including John Adams’s Violin Concerto, appearing as a soloist with the Hamburg Symphony, Tokyo Symphony and Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

—Jamie Wilson