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Beaming To A Venue Near You

The crowd has been anxiously waiting for over an hour for them to appear on stage, but rather than the usual reasons for delays - tantrums, someone’s too drunk to perform, travel delays - it’s because the projector is having issues beaming the holographic Rolling Stones on stage. Sound ridiculous? Well, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. News circulated recently that Whitney Houston, the most awarded female act of all time, is going on a world tour in 2016. Don’t let the fact that she's been dead for over three years get in the way of a good gig, because, lo and behold, a hologram Whitney will be beamed onto stages worldwide. Alki David, CEO of Hologram USA, celebrated the news: “I was heartbroken when Whitney passed away in 2012. The opportunity to help share her spectacular gifts with the world again is exactly what I hoped for when I built the hologram business.” And it’s not just Whitney who will be posthumously playing to audiences. A holographic version of Billie Holiday is playing at New York’s Apollo Theater later this year. Holograms have always been synonymous with sci-fi, whether it be a holographic Princess Leia telling Obi Wan Kenobi he’s her only hope or being part of some exciting gadget for the Power Rangers to spice up Saturday morning kids' TV. Damon Albarn has used the technology for his band Gorillaz to much success, but rather unsurprisingly it’s Japan who are the pioneers for holography in music. Rock band X Japan performed with their deceased guitarist Hideto Matsumoto projected onto stage in 2008, ten years after he committed suicide. And then there’s Hatsune Miku. Hatsune Miku ('the first sound from the future') is a 16-year-old girl with long turquoise ponytails who has the envy of most 'real' teenage girls her age. She has been the opening act at a Lady Gaga concert, played gigs across the world and appeared on David Letterman, but she is purely an animated projection based on a software synthesiser. Her voice comes from a Japanese voice actress who has leant her vocals to video games and anime, and you can now download an English version of her too. Would you pay to see that? Personally, I can see the appeal as an opening act for a 'real' band, only in the same gimmicky way that you can unlock your phone with a fingerprint or pay with your smartwatch. Cool, but not the main reason you paid for it. It’s like when a holographic Tupac joined Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre on stage at Coachella 2012. The crowd whooped and yelled in excitement, but navigate through the shaky YouTube footage and there are a few things that spring to mind. While it does look impressive, it’s only six minutes long and it doesn’t have the same charisma or energy you expect from a performer, which is why there are doubts that a holographic Whitney world tour would have such an impact when placed centre stage. Of course, some will say it’s an opportunity to see an artist they never got a chance to see. Never doubt the advancement of technology. Maybe we will eventually experience a projected performer who can't be distinguished from a human. And anyway, does it really matter, as long as it sounds good? Maybe not, but you can’t say it’s the same. While we might hear of a few more celebrities being resurrected and projected all over the world, for now it can’t replace real musicians. Holo 3D-Pac might have said, "What’s up Coachella!" but it’s quite different to those performers who genuinely interact with their fans. Just picture the scene. The year is 2050. A great-grandparent is regaling his great-grandchildren about how he was young and hip once, listing the acts he saw live - The Smiths, Joy Division, De La Soul, Amy Winehouse. “Oh Amy Winehouse, I like her,” says his great grand-daughter. "Really?" he replies. “Yeah, we should go see her. Her hologram’s playing next week. I’ll get tickets if you want.” I can’t think of anything worse. )

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