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Tech Giant Prominent In Lady Gaga’s Bowie Tribute

Lady Gaga and Intel joined forces at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 16, 2016 to pay tribute to David Bowie.Lady Gaga and Intel joined forces at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 16, 2016 to pay tribute to David Bowie.
Lady Gaga and Intel joined forces at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 16, 2016, to pay tribute to David Bowie.Courtesy of Intel

Famed artist Lady Gaga put on a show at the Grammy Awards on Monday night. But she couldn’t have done it without Intel.

Gaga at the show paid tribute to David Bowie, one of the more popular artists of his generation, who recently died. She played a set of Bowie songs, including “Ziggy Stardust” and “Rebel Rebel.” However, the technological show she added to the mix has also garnered some attention.

Prior to kicking off her setlist, Gaga paid tribute to Intel (INTC), saying that the combination of technology and art helped her to create a unique presentation. After her performance, the show quickly transitioned to another Intel ad, promoting the company’s technology.

“Intel and House of Gaga share a passion for innovation,” Gaga said in the ad. “We wanted to inspire the world using music and technology in a performance unlike anything we’ve witnessed before.”

She ended the ad simply: “Intel. Gaga.”

Indeed, the performance was technologically sophisticated. In the beginning of her tribute to Bowie, digital transitions were placed on her face, converting her digital makeup into everything from Bowie-like facepaint to a spider crawling around. She again used technology later in the performance. In between, she used Intel-based robotics.

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In a statement on Monday after the performance, Intel touted its technology, saying that it used what’s called “digital skin” developed for Lady Gaga that created the “animated face.” The company also incorporated robotics and “interactive holograms” to enhance the performance. The company called the collaboration with Lady Gaga “a groundbreaking moment for Grammy viewers and fans worldwide.”

The performance was part of a broader effort by Intel to break away from the perception that it’s only a computer processor maker. The company has used the last several months to talk up its other efforts, including wearable and “experiential” technologies.

Intel made that effort abundantly clear at New York Fashion Week last year when it partnered with Chromat, a fashion label that used Intel’s Curie module—hardware that employs a battery, motion sensors, and wireless connectivity—to create 3D and “responsive” dresses and sports bras. In an interview with Fortune, Chromat founder and head designer Becca McCharen said that the Intel partnership allowed the company to create a bra that senses heat levels and respond by opening vents and cooling the body. The dresses expand and contract based on built-in sensors that monitor adrenaline and stress levels.

In an interview with Inc. recently, Intel’s chief marketing officer Steve Fund explained a bit more what Intel’s vision for the future is, saying that his company is intentionally working towards making people realize that Intel can create “product experiences.”

For more, read: How a Tech Giant Infiltrated New York Fashion Week

“We want people to insist on Intel first, and then choose among the various manufacturers,” he said.

Working with Lady Gaga was a critical part of that strategy. In an interview with Vanity Fair published last night, Intel’s director of technology, Paul Tapp, said that the company has actually been working with Lady Gaga since September in preparation for the performance. After Bowie passed away in January, however, Gaga said she wanted to use technology to pay tribute to the famed artist.

“Bowie had tons of iconic looks throughout his very rich career,” Tapp told Vanity Fair. “So Lady Gaga was curious how we could pay an homage to that. We introduced ‘living canvas’ technology to her, which allows her to basically have what we call digital skin—which has been used in tech art installations, but never before for a live performance.”

There are some questions, however, over whether Gaga and Intel may have gone too far. Daily Mail highlighted several tweets from Twitter users who complained that Intel’s bookending commercials may have been self-serving at a time when an artist was being remembered. The news outlet found several tweets decrying the Intel commercial, with one person saying that Lady Gaga “does (a) performance dedicated to Bowie then does (an) Intel commercial making money off Bowie.”

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Overall, though, the response seems to be positive. In its own search on Twitter, Fortune found few complaints about the Intel-Lady Gaga partnership. Indeed, some users specifically said that the combination made for an even better performance, and both Intel and Lady Gaga tweeted that they were pleased with the result.

Looking ahead, Intel isn’t done at the Grammys. The company told Vanity Fair that it has a two-year contract with the awards show, and will deliver another technology-based performance at next year’s event.