Articulating the future: When creativity meets possibility ︎

What will the future situation be? Will it be better? What is in people’s minds? To articulate the future, I invited music fans, musicians and people working in the music industry to participate in this project and to imagine the scenario of digital gigs in 2035 through drawing and one or two sentences. Although it is an “old technology” which does not need any electronics for the most part, it is precisely because of this that it helps to capture and express the ideas about the future situation which are not easily expressed in words. I am thrilled to see how my participants’ creativities collide with future possibilities.

From the works I received, it can be said that the most obvious trend of the approaching future is the upgraded virtual world where our flesh is “mixed” with cyberspace by holography and maximized immersive interaction. This is reflected on the appearances of helmets-like headsets, which bring a kind of sci-fi vibe that the scenario of online live streaming is like real dreaming or a kind of artificial dreaming.

Given the development of 5G technology, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), the higher speed and lower latency will allow this artificial dreaming to dance at our fingertips. At the end of 2018, a London-based company MelodyVR started their very first gig using VR livestream via their app. In this, the users could watch their favorite artists’ performance in 360° with a smartphone or VR headset. The view can even be changed from the far end of the stadium to the side nearest to the artists. As for immersive social interaction, musicians and audience can be “holoportaled” into virtual space with 3D real-time motion scanners and VR/MR headsets, thus the connection among the music community can be built again. DoubleMe, a company focusing on real-time motion capture, launched HoloPortal at the end of 2019. In the studio, two or three specialised cameras capture the movement of the objects, then deliver the data to the headsets somewhere else. With multiple devices working simultaneously across geographical locations, a virtual room on the cloud can be built. Although this new technology is not sophisticated enough at the moment, the adoption of such virtual rooms where users’ doubles can speak and interact with each other will emerge in the livestream in the near future.

This might be an exciting moment for gig livestreaming, but it should be pointed out that totally different points of view on the future of digital gigs collide together in these drawings. One participant anticipated  that the immersive livestream gigs will be the “best” gigs ever, while another imagined that the livestream will always be “bad” compared to the physical concert. I came back to these two participants afterwards. The former intended to indicate the benefit of keeping personal space protected from crowds and unhygienic environments, while the latter pointed out the lost dynamics without drinking and headbanging with others.

Yes, this kind of argument will always exist until someday when our sensory experiences can be fully fulfilled by technological means. It sounds clichéd, but the virtual is always virtual. A virtual hug is always plainer than a real one. Precisely because of this, the physical gig, the physical space with rich meanings will never be replaced by the cloud space. For me, I would rather attend the real concert to support the music scene because I do not want to lose the real opportunity to raise the horns up to show my respect for bands in person.

Gallery : What is in people’s mind?  ︎


[1] S. Hartshorne, “Live music performance in virtual worlds : six musicians ’ experiences,” pp. 23–32, 2014.
[2] L. Theron and C. Mitchell, Picturing Research. 2011.
[3] A. Kallman, “From pay-per-view to VR: Where live music meets the future,” IBC 365, 2018. [Online]. Available:
[4] IBC 365, “VR: The future of live content?,” IBC 365, 2020. [Online]. Available: