b. c.1960, USA. One of the more surprising musical artists of the 90s, Jaron Lanier is much better known as a computer scientist - wherein he is widely described as the ‘father of virtual reality’, having been the first to coin the term. Despite his interests in cyber-technology, in 1994 he recorded a debut album, Instruments Of Change, which was dominated by analogue recording techniques. As he told the press, ‘Instruments Of Change was intended to make a statement that music is primary, culture is primary and that we can’t get lost in machines.’ Including medieval bowed harp and musical patterns drawn from India and the Far East, Lanier confessed the real imperative behind the project was that music was his first love. Further, his most famous invention, the Data Glove (an instrument allowing the user to control various aspects of the virtual reality environment) was based on his desire to play ‘air guitar’. He combined both his interests for ‘The Sound Of One Hand’, a live improvisational performance piece which featured him performing musical instruments in a virtual reality environment. 1996’s Music From Inside Virtual Reality pushed the boundaries back further, featuring such elements as a rhythm generated by dancers inside a virtual world and virtual instruments such as flutes ‘bent and twisted inside virtual reality by my motions while I play them, which definitely does make new sounds’.
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