Xiao Xiao

萧潇

MirrorFugue

Xiao Xiao

source: highlike

Work: While practicing piano one day, I noticed my reflection faithfully shadowing my every move on the other side of the piano’s lacquered surface. I wanted to untether my reflection from me so that she could continue playing after I leave. I can then revisit her and play along with her, interweaving new layers to the music. Named for the Baroque musical form of multiple interwoven voices, MirrorFugue is an installation for a player piano that evokes the impression that the “reflection” of a disembodied pianist is playing the physically moving keys. On MirrorFugue, I can capture and confront other selves and converse with them through the piano. I can perform together with layers of myself or reflect on memories from long ago. Others too can sit in front of MirrorFugue and see in their reflection that of a stranger, a pianist who plays along with no awareness of their presence. Viewing MirrorFugue evokes the sense of walking into a memory, or as if viewers were ghosts in another’s dream, themselves incorporeal, able to sit down in place of the pianist, shadow the keys and perhaps even play along.
Photographer: Alan Kwan
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source: portfolioxiaosquared
Xiao Xiao (萧潇) spent her first 8 years in China, the next 10 in New Orleans, and most of the rest on the campus of MIT. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab, where she completed an M.S. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from MIT with a minor in Architecture.
Xiao Xiao’s research examines the interaction of the body, object and space in collaboration over distance and time. Her work been presented at academic conferences (TEI, CHI, NIME, SIGGRAPH, ITS, ACE) and featured on television programs in the United States and Japan (CNN, PBS, Jeopardy, NHK). She has spoken and performed on her project MirrorFugue at various venus around the world.
At the age of 4, Xiao Xiao began learning how to play the piano. These days, she spends most of her time next to a grand piano that lives in her office. During the day, she imagines and implements evocative experiences on the instrument. Each night, she continues to practice to become a better pianist.
Xiao Xiao’s initials make a rather comical face (x_x). You may write to that face at mit.edu to reach her.
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source: portfolioxiaosquared
In my reflection, I often glimpse traces of other selves, personas that surface from beneath, silently peering back at me. What if we could capture these elusive figures, confront them and even converse with them?
While practicing piano one day, I noticed my reflection faithfully shadowing my every move on the other side of the piano’s lacquered surface. I wanted to untether my reflection from me so that she could continue playing after I leave. I can then revisit her and play along with her, interweaving new layers to the music.
Named for the Baroque musical form of multiple interwoven voices, MirrorFugue is an installation for a player piano that evokes the impression that the “reflection” of a disembodied pianist is playing the physically moving keys. On MirrorFugue, I can capture and confront other selves and converse with them through the piano. I can perform together with layers of myself or reflect on memories from long ago.
Others too can sit in front of MirrorFugue and see in their reflection that of a stranger, a pianist who plays along with no awareness of their presence. Viewing MirrorFugue evokes the sense of walking into a memory, or as if viewers were ghosts in another’s dream, themselves incorporeal, able to sit down in place of the pianist, shadow the keys and perhaps even play along.
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source: webmediamitedu
MirrorFugue is a set of interfaces for the piano to visualize the gesture of a performance. Based on the idea that the visibility of gesture contributes to learning and synchronization, MirrorFugue displays the hand and body movements of piano playing using metaphors from the physical world to connect musicians from disparate spaces and times.
We designed two modes to visualize the hand gesture of a performance, which we term “Reflection” and “Organ”. Inspired by the reflective surface on a lacquered grand piano that mirrors the keyboard and player’s hands, Reflection mode shows the mirrored keyboard and hands of a performance. Organ mode displays the unaltered, top-town image of the collaborator’s keyboard like the aligned and offset keyboards of an organ.
MirrorFugue can be used in remote lessons to enable teachers and students to see each other’s playing. It could also be used to playback recordings of the self and others. A student can use MirrorFugue for practice support by recording a portion of a piece playing a duet with the recording. By displaying the body and the hands at full scale on the surface of the instrument, MirrorFugue evokes the presence of a pianist with a sense of intimate emotional expression.
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source: tangiblemediamitedu
Xiao Xiao (萧潇) is a Chinese-Born, American technologist, interaction designer and artist currently a PhD student in the Tangible Media Group of the MIT Media Lab. A life long pianist, she applies insights from the art of piano playing to human-computer interaction, designing interactions and experiences that elegantly bridge the digital and the physical.
Her research has been presented at various conferences (TEI, CHI, SIGGRAPH, ITS, ACE) as well as featured on television programs (CNN, PBS, NHK, Jeopardy) around the world. She has presented and performed on her project MirrorFugue at TEDxBoston, Aspen Ideas Festival, and BIF.
Xiao received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering with a minor in architecture, and a master’s in media arts and sciences, both from MIT.
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source: tangiblemediamitedu
The body channels rich layers of information when playing music, from intricate manipulations of the instrument to vivid personifications of expression. But when music is captured and replayed across distance and time, the performer’s body is too often trapped behind a small screen or absent entirely.
MirrorFugue conjures the recorded performer at the piano by combining the moving keys of a player piano with life-sized projection of the pianist’s hands and upper body. Inspired by reflections on a lacquered grand piano, MirrorFugue evokes the sense that the virtual pianist is playing the physically moving keys.