Image of Ryuichi Sakamoto playing the piano in a darkened space, as a Magic Leap hologram

Augmented Reality Performance

KAGAMI at The Shed with Magic Leap: Augmented Reality at Its Best

June 8, 2023


 min Read

KAGAMI, at The Shed in NYC is a beautiful example of what a Magic Leap experience can be. Produced by Tin Drum, it’s an hour-long piano concert recorded live in 2020, so it could be performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto’s hologram in 2023 and beyond.

Even though Sakamoto and his piano are holograms they are real enough to completely hold your attention. It feels so remarkable that when you lift your head to look at the space through your eyes and not the headset - there’s nothing there, it’s empty space. It doesn’t matter that you know this to be true intellectually, it still gives you pause. I’ve often said just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it’s not real but this experience hovers equally between reality and hallucination. The occlusion works so well that other audience members don’t block your view of the performance, no matter where they’re standing.

At first it took a little while to let go of my daytime mindset but at some point it dawned on me that I was completely in tune with the rhythm of the piece: one song, then one moment of darkness when Sakamoto and his piano would disappear, and then reappear as he began a new song. Each composition has its own poetic visual environment that represents the music, and lives for the fleeting period of time of each musical piece.

 Sakamoto was a Buddhist and this technology provides an IRL opportunity for anyone to experience how something can feel real but isn’t. The music has a sadness to it while also quietly radiating energy, implying, for me, a recognition of the fleeting nature of our individual lives, and also that all life goes on. Sakamoto died in March of this year. Here are his words about the experience of performing KAGAMI:

This was such an illuminating demonstration of what AR can provide and what kind of magical experiences Magic Leap can provide.  Performances happen several times a day until July 2nd and you can get tickets here: For additional insights, read this article on Artnet.

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