Japanese artist’s opera-singing android to debut in Australia

In a rehearsal studio in Adelaide, a team of musicians is practicing for their big performance on Saturday night.


Japanese artist Keiichiro Shibuya is the composer and creator of the work ‘Scary Beauty’.

The star of his show is ‘Skeleton’ – a humanoid robot configured to sing opera.

“I think now, art is much too comfortable for the audience,” he says.

Skeleton is built like a machine from the neck down, but has distinctly human-like facial expressions.

Scientists at Osaka University worked to create its physical design and basic movements, while further enhancement was added at Tokyo University – including in-built neural networks that mimic the human brain.

Keiichiro Shibuya is known for his reality-bending works and fusing art with technology.

His latest work probes the space between fear and pleasure.

“It’s something strange, and scary, and beautiful, and [moving],” he says.

“The mixed feeling, if people can get it, I’m so happy.”

Skeleton is a product of scientists at Osaka University.SBS World News

A ‘unique experience’

Joseph Mitchell, the artistic director of OzAsia festival, says Adelaide audiences will be the first to see the work anywhere in the world when it opens on Saturday.

“Having an android front and centre brings into question the role of future technology in arts and culture,” he says.

Musicians from the Australian Art Orchestra will be playing alongside Skeleton and Mr Shibuya on the night.

Joseph Knight, who plays the trumpet for the orchestra and is its artistic director, says it’s a unique experience.

“The algorithms and the programs that drive the response of the robot are not predictable,” he says.

“So it’s fascinating to watch him – or her – respond in a different way each time.

Keiichiro Shibuya says he isn’t sure how his work will be received, but he’s looking forward to seeing Skeleton’s many skills on stage and in public for the first time.

“The robot is a totally new feeling, totally new experience for audience,” he says.

“I don’t know if it’s successful or not, but it’s totally new.”

Keiichiro Shibuya is known for his reality-bending works and fusing art with technology.SBS World News