How do Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills, industrial designer Konstantin Grcic, and sound/visual artist Yoshi Sodeoka see musical instruments 200 years from now? For Future Instruments 2214, a project commissioned by the Red Bull Music Academy, artist Kim Laughton produced immaculate digital renderings based on their ideas, and they’re quite fantastical.
Tyler, The Creator jests (we think) that radio will be clogged with screams, the sound of choice for musicians of the era. “Someone will create a small cube box where the artist can scream into it, and it will have every single effect possible to make the scream distinct from other ones,” he says in the description.
In Jeff Mills’ future, “The Clone 101” is “physical and mental reality player” with a liquid coating comprised of microscopic sensors. It acts as a haptic full body suit and lets the wearer hear and feel the vibrations of the music, as well as experience and sense the psychological state of the music creator.
Seth Woods, cellist and PhD candidate of the Centre for Research in New Music program, imagines a digital exoskeleton of “animated titanium” that creates a sonic landscape by tuning in with the movements of performers, turning gestures into sounds.
The most joyful of the 10 imagined instruments, which includes edge-to-edge screen synthesizers and naturescapes that play themselves, is Yoshi Sodeoka’s Zen Sonic Satellite 3000. Orbiting the planet, the satellite constantly gathers data on the “global environmental conditions and mental states of people all over the world” and transmits music “barely audible to the human ear” using “radio microwave technology.” In his future it is in tuned with the world and is so spiritually unifying that it will end war, stop crime, reverse environmental damage, and fix everything, ever.
“This idea was inspired by–a popular social palliative since the late decades of the 1900’s,” Sodeoka explained to Fast Company. “Smooth jazz and classical music have often been played in stressful environments such as elevators, shopping malls, and dentist office waiting rooms. It has been proven that relaxing background melodies have soothing effects on people’s minds and spirits. It is possible that the Zen Sonic Satellite 3000 will offer a significant evolution from the arguably limited of today…”
In contrast, Kim Laughton’s own idea is beautifully terrifying. In his future, there are no humans–a massive semi-organic landscape covers the Earth, integrated with the artificial intelligence that survives us. All the music that’s left is the “flow” of “computer light.”
When asked why Sodeoka’s zen-full satellite instrument is so optimistic, he said, “I don’t know. It’s just that all those movies about the future, their vision is all fucked up and stuff. I kind of wanted to try a different angle.”