Layers of the Traditional in Popular Performing Arts: Object and Voice as Character: Vocaloid Opera AOI


Vocaloid Opera
Lady Aoi
Hiroshi Tamawari

How to Cite

Rosner, T. “Layers of the Traditional in Popular Performing Arts: Object and Voice As Character: Vocaloid Opera AOI”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 7-20, doi:10.32926/2018.6.ros.layer.


The paper analyzes how the concept of presence is put into play in connection to disappearance, contemporary popular media technology and objects in the 2014 production of Vocaloid Opera Aoi, composed by Hiroshi Tamawari. In the traditional noh theatre version of the famous story, the character Aoi does not appear “in person,” she is represented by a kimono. In the 2014 production the modified story is performed with bunraku puppets and sung by a Vocaloid singer, a software. By analyzing this, I elaborate on the connection between the recent studies on object dramaturgy and the questions of nonhuman (Bennett, Eckersall), and the nonreflective position rooted in animism from the fan base of pop culture that attributes personality and emotions to their respective robot/android/software idol. 

I examine the latest performative events in contemporary Japanese theatre that involve both human and non-human actors/agents (animals, objects, androids, vocaloids): the corporeality of the organic and inorganic Other, focusing on how the presence of the organic and non-organic nonhuman appears within the interplays of representation, how it relates to the layers of empathy, responsibility and consent, in the frame of contemporary Japanese popular culture.
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