When Kinect-Style Interactivity Was New and Thrilling—and So '90s!

More

Today, we are living the dream of the nineties -- at least when it comes to technology. The virtual realities we imagined are now available in toy stores. Microsoft's $150 Kinect, a depth and motion-sensing camera originally designed for video games, has become a ubiquitous hackable interface for countless developers, musicians, and artists. Long before the Kinect powered musical performances like this, however, Vincent John Vincent and the 20th Century Kid performed this amazing demonstration of pioneering gesture-controlled video technology, below. 

As Weird Al explains in his introduction, this show "demonstrates the vast potential of digital virtual reality to bring together music, images, technology, communications -- not to mimic machines but to artfully extend our visual comprehension of the world." In 1986, Vincent, a Canadian multimedia performance artist and entrepreneur, and his company GestureTek developed gesture-recognition software that became the basis for decades of innovation in computer vision and interactive media. 

As Vincent explained in a comment on "Why the Musical Instrument of the Future Might Be the 3D Camera," his system worked off a standard 2D video camera. He performed in front of a blue screen and was then chroma keyed into the virtual world via an Amiga computer. The virtual landscape? Powered by LaserDisc. The result is a surreal jaunt through a psychedelic mix of mid-nineties computer graphics. Enjoy the show!

For more work by Vincent John Vincent, visit http://www.vjvincent.com/.

Jump to comments

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In