Jaron Lanier : biography
Jaron Zepel Lanier ( born 3 May 1960) is an American computer scientist, best known for popularizing the term virtual reality (VR). A pioneer in the field of VR, Lanier and Thomas G. Zimmerman left Atari in 1985 to found VPL Research, Inc., the first company to sell VR goggles and gloves. In the late 1990s, Lanier worked on applications for Internet2, and in the 2000s, he was a visiting scholar at Silicon Graphics and various universities. More recently, he has acted as an advisor to Linden Lab on their virtual world product Second Life, and as "scholar-at-large" at Microsoft Research where he has worked on the Kinect device for Xbox 360.
Lanier is also known as a composer of classical music and a collector of rare instruments; his acoustic album, Instruments of Change (1994) features Asian wind and string instruments such as the khene mouth organ, the suling flute, and the sitar-like esraj. Lanier was the director of an experimental short film, and teamed with Mario Grigorov to compose the soundtrack to the documentary film, The Third Wave (2007). As an author, Lanier has written a column for Discover magazine; his book, You Are Not a Gadget (2010), is a critique of Web 2.0. In 2010, Lanier was nominated (by himself) in the TIME 100 list of most influential people.
As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new classical music since the late 1970s. He is a pianist and a specialist in many non-western musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played rare instruments in the world. Lanier has performed with artists as diverse as Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, Vernon Reid, Terry Riley, Duncan Sheik, Pauline Oliveros, and Stanley Jordan. Recording projects include his acoustic techno duet with Sean Lennon and an album of duets with flautist Robert Dick.
Lanier also writes chamber and orchestral music. Current commissions include an opera that will premiere in Busan, South Korea, and a symphony, Symphony for Amelia, to be premiered by the Bach Festival Society Orchestra and Choir in Winter Park, Florida, in October 2010. at bachfestivalflorida.org Recent commissions include “Earthquake!” a ballet that premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in April 2006; “Little Shimmers” for the TroMetrik ensemble, which premiered at ODC in San Francisco in April 2006; “Daredevil” for the ArrayMusic chamber ensemble, which premiered in Toronto in 2006; A concert-length sequence of works for orchestra and virtual worlds (including "Canons for Wroclaw," "Khaenoncerto," "The Egg," and others) celebrating the 1000th birthday of the city of Wroclaw, Poland, premiered in 2000; A triple concerto, "The Navigator Tree," commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum, premiered in 2000; and "Mirror/Storm," a symphony commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which premiered in 1998. Continental Harmony was a PBS special that documented the development and premiere of “The Navigator Tree” at PBS.org won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. Sonos.org
In 1994, he released the classical music album Instruments of Change on POINT Music/Philips/PolyGram Records. The album has been described as a Western exploration of Asian musical traditions by Stephen Hill on "The Crane Flies West 2" (episode 357) of Hearts of Space. Lanier is currently working on a book Technology and the Future of the Human Soul, and a music album Proof of Consciousness, in collaboration with Mark Deutsch.
Lanier's work with Asian instruments can be heard extensively on the soundtrack of (1999), which was the first film ever to win both the Audience and Grand Jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival. He and Mario Grigorov scored a film called The Third Wave, which premiered at Sundance in 2007. He is working with Terry Riley on a collaborative opera to be titled Bastard, the First.
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