Holograms in pop music: social impacts
The rapid development of digital technologies brings the relationship between the human and the machine under the scope of constant observation and redefinition. A hologram is another form of technological expansion achieving popularity in a fast-digitalised world.
Following the technological advances and the experiment with new materials, holograms have been evolved and found their use as essential tools in different domains. In medicine the use of MIR (magnetic resonance imaging) and Xray technology, in army services, the military mapping is the use of holographic maps useful for training, evacuation and rescue missions and concerning security the use of holograms on credit cards and bank notes confirms the authenticity of the products. Moreover, in the broad field of visual arts, a significant number of artists are involved in creative holography.
However, it seems that holograms became widely known primarily for their use in the entertainment industry, appearing in films, video games and recently in popular music where we watched many holograms of alive musicians performing on stages from Gorillaz to Maria Carey and Mia to Rihanna.
Considering the new reality created by the vast exchange of information that internet generated, Crypton Media, a Japanese media company in 2007, created a virtual doll named Hatsune Miku that sings using Vocaloid1 software technology. Initially, it was intended to be a tool for any user who would like to make his/her music and have the song performed by the icon of the software, Miku. The idea was to encourage the amateur user to engage in music production, to become both the consumer and the creator. There are no restrictions in the licensing of Miku and in this way anybody is free to experiment with her voice her design and appearance as long as it is not for commercial gain (Itoh, 2016). The digitized 16-year-old girl achieved worldwide success, had appeared ‘live' in her concerts, as an opening act to Lady GaGa’s ArtPop Ball tour and Dave Letterman's Late Show.
Even though we are all accustomed to the advanced technology of virtual reality, a digitized image that entered our lives in the recent music history was of significant importance as it initiated the wave of music holograms to follow and raised questions related to the meaning of human existence.
Tupac Shakur a well-known rapper and activist murdered in 1996, was digitally resurrected in order to appear in 2012 Coachella music festival in a duet with long-time friend singer and musician Snoop Dog. The prospect that technology can recreate the image of a dead person that moves and sings is both overwhelming and terrifying. It challenges our perception of reality while it generates inquiries about the temporary and the eternal, life and death. On the thousands of viewers who experienced it via YouTube channel surely did not have the same effect as on the ones who were actually at the concert witnessing the spectacle as a ‘live’ event. According to British author, Ken McLeod holograms can be recognized as ‘spiritual entities’ that emotionally charge the audience with the spiritual co-presence of an absent performer. (Mc Keod, 2016). The absence particularly identifies with Tupac’s case as he is permanently gone. Undoubtedly his hologram stirred up many emotions provoking controversial reactions from the audience. For many, it was a ‘mind-blowing' and ‘unbelievable’ experience. For others, it brought about a feeling of fear based on the fact that technology is pushing the boundaries between the real and virtual beyond human comprehension and the ability to adjust. Moreover, it raised questions about the ethos and the intentions behind the creation of Tupac's hologram as it transformed the deceased artist in a branded product with a substantial financial profit.
Nevertheless, whichever the outcome, the presence of the digitally fabricated image of the dead rapper emphasized the absence of human presence. A fact that leads to the belief that even in today’s established digital network society the human life is of unlimited value.
1 . Software for the artificial regeneration of speech.
List of sources
Darth Revan Piece Is A Lie (2016). Hatsune Miku Sharing the World David Letterman HD. YouTube. Availbale from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtEREVFSED I [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Dorian Orange. (2014). M.I.A. & Janelle Monae Hologram Performance. YouTube. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LylOt5SoidY [Accessed 14 April 2019 ].
Itoh, H. (2016). Meet Hatsune Miku the Japanese Pop Star Hologram. Interviewed by Emilia Petrarca for W Magazine, 30 May. Available from https://www.wmagazine.com/story/hatsune-miku-crypton-future [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Lord, A .(2018). What Do Holographic Popstars Mean For The Music Industry. I-D. Vice, 25 July. Available from https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/wjkjvw/what-do-holographic-popstars-mean-for-the-music-industry [ Accessed 14 April 2019].
McLeod, K. (2016). Living in the Immaterial World: Holograms and Spirituality in Recent Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, 39 (5), 501-515. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03007766.2015.1065624 [ Accessed 14 April 2019].
Pepper, A. (2017). Five Surprising ways Holograms are Revolutionising the World. The Conversation, 24 May. Available from https://theconversation.com/five-surprising-ways-holograms-are-revolutionising-the-world-7788 [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Westfesttv (2012). Tupac Hologram Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre Perform Coachella Live2012. YouTube. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbrFmPBV0Y [Accessed 14 April 2019].
SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE IMPACT ON CELEBRITY CULTURE
The establishment of a global network society and the radical change of mass communication through social media has contributed significantly to the reshaping of celebrity culture and the redefinition of the term itself. Social media in a sense democratised the way celebrity is practiced based on the fact that the public has an active and more definite role in this procedure (Marwick, and Boyd, 2011).
In the past, almost every move a celebrity made was regulated by an agent or a manager. The notion of celebrity was epitomized on the persona of an unreachable movie star. The reporting of information was restricted from traditional media such as TV and newspapers. This order has evolved to a new strategy as celebrities can now communicate directly with their fans via digital platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites. This instant mode of communication appears to be a favorite way of interaction for both the public/consumer and the stars/celebrities. For the latter it works as it helps them to be seen as ‘real’ people; it humanizes them and makes them look approachable to the social media user (Levy, 2012). Simultaneously, it provides consumers with the chance to explore a celebrity’s private life by viewing photos, videos or posts uploaded on the stars’ social media accounts and actually comment on stars’ lives. As consumers have access to details of celebrities’ daily routines, they feel they are getting truthful information as opposed to the past reporting from traditional media. Their perception is that they connect with the celebrities’ privateselves(Marwick, and Boyd, 2011).
Cristine Kowalczyk and Kathryn Pounders, authors of the research paper titled: Transforming Celebrities through Social Media: The Role of Authenticity and Emotional Attachmentattempt to outline the way social media transforms the manner the public and celebrities engage with each other by highlighting two crucial factors, authenticity and the feelings of attachment. Authenticity could be defined as the quality of being real or genuine therefore the idea that the celebrity behaves according to his/her real self (Moulard, Garrity and Rice, 2015). This becomes the essential element that will make the celebrity more relatable to the audience. In a world where human interaction is often shallow or insignificant being genuine and authentic is a particularly desirable quality. The celebrities in order to be authentic they have to demonstrate behavior characterized by stability, (behavior which is similar across different situations or moods). Also, they will need to possess uniqueness,a feature which describes special characteristics that differentiate one celebrity from the other. (Moulard, Garrity and Rice, 2015). Once the celebrity validates his/her authenticity (this includes the verification of their social media account), then the development of intimacy followed by an emotional attachment between the consumer and the star is more likely to surface. This happens when the celebrity appears as ‘down to earth’, as a real person, without arrogance, but with everyday problems that the consumer can identify with. As an example, the following posts from Katie Holmes’s Instagram account, portrays Katie as she interacts in an intimate manner with her daughter Suri, making the star appear as another regular mom, familiar and ordinary.
The singer/musician Britney Spears posts a video of her exercise routine, taking place in her bedroom. Probably a habit that thousands of her followers could identify with.
Singer Jennifer Lopez posts a video of her twins dancing around in their pyjamas demonstrating a happy and intimate family moment.
Moreover, social media fuels the consumer’s fascination with discovering the celebrities’ true identity. As a result, a new professional ideology had been adopted by the stars of the digital age (Tolson, 2001). One that is promoting familiarity, intimacy and the image of the genuine every day self as vital components of the new celebrity marketing strategy. The true-self presentation appeals the most to social media users and wins the stars a great number of followers. At this point a paradox is evident. While within the current global network society the human contact is losing ground over the interaction through the different digital apps and social media at the same time the same digital platforms are promoting the pursue of a human true-self.
List of Sources
Holmes, K. (2018). Katie Holmes with her daughter Suri. Instagram.Available from https://www.instagram.com/p/BgFWSgmBqbY/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Holmes, K. (2017). Katie Holmes kissing Suri’s arm. Instagram.Available from https://www.instagram.com/p/BUFR3N2jAel/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Kowalczyk, M.C., Pounders, R.K. (2016). Transforming celebrities through social media: the role of authenticity and emotional attachment. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 25 (4), 345-346. Available from http://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-09-2015-0969 [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Levy, S. (2012). What you can learn from celebrities about social media. Entrepreneur Europe,14 September. Available from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224430 [ Accessed 14 April 2019].
Lopez, J. (2019). Jennifer Lopez’s twins singing in their pyjamas. Instagram.Available from https://www.instagram.com/p/BvEzN0pAlD2/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Marwick, A. and Boyd, D. (2011). To see and be seen: celebrity practice on Twitter. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17 (2), 139-158. Available from http://doi.org/10.1177/1354856510394539 [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Moulard, J.G., Garrity, C.P. and Rice, D.H. (2015). What makes a human brand authentic? Identifying the antecedents of celebrity authenticity. Psychology & Marketing, 32 (2), 173-186. Available from http://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20771 [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Spears, B. (2018). Britney Spears demonstrating a physical exercise routine in her bedroom. Instagram.Available from https://www.instagram.com/p/BmbaQKvH3vc/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Thomson, M. (2005). The ties that bind: Measuring the strength of consumers ‘emotional attachments to brands. Journal ofConsumer Psychology,15 (1), 77-91.
Godard and his Unconventional 3D Imagery
Jean Luc Godard, the French-Swiss director, is known as a pioneering directing force who shaped the French New Wave cinematic movement.1Through his radical filmmaking he challenged the protocols of Hollywood and mainstream French cinema. Central to his work are questions about the existential issues of love, relationships, power and politics and he was always at the cutting edge of cinema in terms of his filmmaking and post-production. Given this, his decision to experiment with 3D technology in his film Goodbye to Language (2014)should come as no real surprise.
We are familiar with 3D technology mainly through its use in action and sci-fi films. As technology advanced 3D moved from the big screen to the small screen, blurring the lines between the viewer’s space and the display space. In 2011 the first 3D televisions were released alongside Blue Ray players. Around the same time stereoscopy (a new 3D technique) was being developed for the cinema.
In 2014, Godard continued to innovate within his cinematic journey by making a 3D feature film, collaborating with cinematographer Fabrice Aragno, creating a filmic fusion of stereoscopical 3D technology with his usual exploration of social issues. In the film, Godard creates a drama where a man, a woman and a dog (as a witness to their love story), are central to the narrative.
As we can expect from Godard, he showed no interest in using 3D technology to create another cinematic spectacle in the Michael Bay style. Instead, he aimed to produce unconventional visual material through the use of image, sound and words. This resulted in a new form of 3D film aesthetics and revealed potential for a revolutionary artistic 3D aesthetic.
The film’s structure opposes the conventional practice of 3D technology as employed in Hollywood cinema. Goodbye to Language differs even from celebrated 3D films like Alfonso Guaron’s Gravity, where stereoscopy technology finds its natural home. Within the range of 3D films, Godard’s different and unsecure virtual reality really stands out. He adopts the ‘hi-tech’ techniques of contemporary cinema in order to create an ‘imperfect’ visual narrative. As Andrew Utterson described it, Godard ‘demonstrates an approach to technology that customizes, deconstructs, and otherwise scrutinizes a range of consumer as well as prosumer digital imaging and recording devices’ (Utterson, 2017). Godard and Aragno deliberately employed low quality cameras which Aragno modified by customising his own camera rigs in order to achieve the desired result. By doing things this way he avoided the usual and typical representation of the 3D image. By using two cameras rigged together with enough distance in centimetres apart, he would achieve more 3D depth than a typical rig could offer (moving towards deep focus).
This was not the only way that Goodbye to Languagebroke the 3D filmmaking rules. The pixelation of image, the lack of a clean frame, handheld cameras creating an unsteady image, lights directly into the camera, 3D image splitting and the placing of text and objects in front of other elements were some other methods used to create an almost impressionistic cinematic visual. Like a Monet of the digital age, by mixing multi-layered effects, Godard presents amalgamated images of shapes and colours as a demonstration of an almost impressionist world.
Godard’s idiosyncratic, imperfect use of 3D culminates in the splitting of the 3D image, suggesting that the viewer’s left eye should watch one image and the right another. To synergise the technology with the film’s plot, Godard, in an effort to highlight a quarrel pushing the protagonists apart, decided to tear the 3D image in a ground-breaking stroke that provoked diverse criticism. The unconventional but demanding use of 3D can be overwhelming for the viewer as it challenges the audience’s reception with the barrage of visual information used. Miriam Ross, a 3D specialist, acknowledges the film as ‘both fascinating and almost completely unbearable’. The mix of all the digital effects can produce a captivating image, but at times it is tiring to watch. Additionally, the many references to other art forms that are integrated such as painting, literature, music and sound makes the visual narrative engaging but difficult to process.
Whether the viewer’s approach is positive or negative towards the film, the radical approach to and use of 3D technology by an arthouse director provides new ways of seeing visual narrative. At this point the work of writer and thinker John Berger comes to mind who in his essays in Ways of Seeing raised questions about the way we see the world and connect within society. Similar to Berger, Godard, through this complicated visual text, was exploring the existential nature of human relationships.
1. French New Wave is a film movement whose main features involve innovative visual style, editing and narrative.
List of sources
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Frazer, B. (2014). Five ways Jean Luc Godard breaks the 3D rules in Farewell to Language. Studio Daily.Available from http://www.studiodaily.com/2014/10/five-ways-jean-luc-godard-breaks-the-3d-rules-in-farewell-to-language/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Korsgaard, B.M. (2016). Godard in wall-eyed 3D. 16:9Filmtidsskrift, 11 May. Available from http://www.16-9.dk/2016/05/godard-in-wall-eyed-3d/ [Accessed 14 April 2019].
Ross, M. (2014). Goodbye to language 3D: Painful sight. Miriamruthross. Available from https://miriamruthross.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/goodbye-to-language-3d-painful-sight/ [Accessed 14 April2019].
Utterson, A. (2016). Practice makes imperfect: Technology and the creative imperfections of Jean Luc Godard’s three-dimensional(3D) cinema. Quarterly Review of film and Video, 34 (3), 295-308. Available fromhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10509208.2016.1209953?casa_token=RT5JB4_Q1_oAAAAA:XGmqfujy4mssyPc_poUosog9PgXbsmBefzrLsfmSAp8nQk1frBCzsff1oFZEDxIlu3aGU9IczilW [Accessed 14 April 2019].
StudiocanalUK. (2014). Goodbye to language- Adieu Au Langage-Jean-Luc Godard. YouTube.Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWEj_AYXzjY [Accessed 14 April2019].