Digital hologram performance technology has inevitably led to resurrecting dead rock stars to bring them to new generations of concertgoers. Now that a holographic Elvis Presley is under construction, more deceased rock legends could be joining him.
Jimi Hendrix’s sister Janie has been working with tech company Musion Systems for the past year to create a hologram of her brother that would appear and perform onstage at concerts and various other events, according to Billboard.
It doesn’t stop at Jimi. Jeff Jampol, who manages the estate of Jim Morrison and The Doors, says he hopes to create an entire concert experience featuring the band and a 3D holographic Jim Morrison performing, walking around and interacting with the audience.
“Hopefully, ‘Jim Morrison’ will be able to walk right up to you, look you in the eye, sing right at you and then turn around and walk away,” he told Billboard.
Jampol also manages the estates of Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, so it would come as no surprise if his hologram projects eventually moved on to them.
These projects come along with those of Digital Domain Media Group, who have joined exclusively with Core Media Group to create a series of Elvis Presley holograms that would be adaptable to a wide range of concerts and events.
Digital Domain is the company behind the hologram of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, who “appeared” in hologram form at this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts festival in Indio, Calif.
The key for Digital Domain is that their images of Elvis, like Tupac, will be built from scratch and would be totally original performances.
“This is not repurposing old footage that the world has already seen,” said Digital Domain chief creative officer Ed Ulbrich. “We’re making totally original and exclusive performances so that fans can have new experiences.”
The inherent problem with holograms of dead performers is, of course, that they’re not the actual performers themselves and there isn’t actually a performer on stage. Such an act could grow tiresome to concertgoers seeking a more tangible music experience.
Holograms could also potentially fall victim to the “Uncanny Valley” effect, in which an artificial likeness of a performer becomes so lifelike and close to the real thing that it ceases to entertain and becomes creepy and off-putting. Robots that look like humans are a strong example of this.
Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges understands these limitations and believes companies should act accordingly when planning use of holograms in upcoming shows.
“There are plenty of opportunities to use it as an extra piece of entertainment,” Hodges told Billboard. “It has to be done creatively, and there are limitations to that before it wears people out.”
Despite groundbreaking technology and a whole new set of possibilities for reliving great performers of the past, holograms are inevitably a polarizing topic. Is it a great new opportunity to show new fans what classic performers were like on stage? Or is it just an exploitative attempt by estates and tech companies to reap the benefits of long-lost performers?
How would you feel about holographic performances from Elvis, Hendrix and Jim Morrison? Would you pay to see such a show? Share your thoughts in the comments.