Monday, April 16, 2012

My obsession with Hologram Tupac

Posted By on 04.16.12 at 04:02 PM

Tupac reborn as a Grand Theft Auto extra
  • Tupac reborn as a Grand Theft Auto extra
I've been trying all day to think about anything besides Hologram Tupac, and I'm finding it extremely difficult. There's something so perfect about it on so many levels. Music festivals' desire to combine nostalgia and spectacle in their headlining acts seems to have reached a macabre but inevitable conclusion in the virtual resurrection of a dead pop star, and odds are we'll be seeing more of this sort of thing in the future. (I'm willing to bet that a major festival announcing an entire set by a reanimated musician is more of a "when" situation than an "if." Aaliyah at Coachella? Biggie at Lollapalooza?) And given the amount of work Tupac has been put up to since he died—some of it considerably more humiliating than reincarnation as a dimly lit Sim—it only makes sense that someone would finally find a way to get a live performance out of him. (Speaking of inevitability: Hologram Tupac has a Twitter account.)

Mostly I'm just fascinated by how fucking terrifying Hologram Tupac is. The uncanny-valley effect at work here is massive, and the rendered Tupac would feel intensely wrong even if it weren't an animation of someone who'd been violently murdered at a young age under exceedingly iffy circumstances.

But when you factor in the morbid profit-motivated side of the equation, the whole effort comes together to form something like a symphony of bad taste—the dizzying scale of the Hologram Tupac project's tackiness approaches something like art. I think about someone being hired to write the copy for Hologram Tupac's ersatz ad-libbed greeting and some voice-over actor being hired to speak it, and the fact that it actually happened in the real world seems impossible. It's like something out of a William Gibson novel, only with the pathetic dehumanized-by-capitalism spin of a George Saunders story. We have touched the future and it is gross and creepy.

It's 2012, everybody. Bring on the Mayan asteroids or whatever. Hologram Tupac for President of the End of the World.

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