He rose up from the darkness, mic in hand and ready for a performance of a lifetime. He rapped, played off the energy of his partners, the crowd and brought forth his own energy to bring every word to life.
Shakur made a dramatic entrance to the Coachella music festival as a 2D image (almost like a hologram but not quite). However, even though its not technically a hologram, it represents another stage in its evolution.
The holographic theory has been around since the early 20th century and was developed by Hungarian physicist Dennis Gabor in 1948. Holography is a “technique that allows light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed.” With the invention of the laser, holography became a reality with the first holographic image in 1962 recorded by Yuri Deniskyuk.
So what’s the big deal with this 2D image and holograms in general? Aren’t they just pictures with light? Well, not really. Holograms record dimension and light so it’s like a 3D picture coming to life before your eyes.
As a children of the 90s, the rap and hip-hop scene was a large part of the music industry and Tupac Shakur was just one famous face lighting up the charts and the hip-hop world. But Tupac Shakur was gunned down in 1996 as a result of a suspected gang rivalry and would never be able to perform live again. Until Coachella.
The 2D projection was created by the same company behind the visuals in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and used a technique originally developed in 1862. The technique basically bounces an image “off of the ground onto an invisible screen.”
And even though there were some issues with Tupac’s height, (he was much shorter than Snoop in real life but in the concert he appears much taller), his mannerisms and personality came to life through those little pixels of bouncing light.
These images and holograms in general can provide a new area of entertainment and a new world of possibilities. There has already been talk of reviving celebrities who have passed like Kurt Cobain or maybe even Michael.
Any nerd would be having the time of her life thinking of all the potential new realities we could have with holograms. Projecting our image somewhere else or getting out of work? Perhaps, but really being alive? Being mentally present, emotional and tangible? Never. But this performance sure came close.
It presents another key aspect to any new technology: the dangers that underlie its potential. We could bring back any celebrity or really any person that has passed back into our reality. But is that right? I could not watch a family member, or friend, be brought back to life, to do the things s/he loved the most, only to vanish with the flip of a light switch.
While this technology still has a long way to go, this performance represents a new avenue this technology can venture into. Even though Tupac’s return sparked a positive response from the crowds and his fellow rappers, his performance partners, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are refusing to take Tupac on the road much to the dismay of Shakur’s fans.
But like any performance and life, it had to come to a close. As the music died down, Tupac returned to center stage, head bowed, a burst of light engulfed Tupac as he burst into a thousand tiny pixels, scattering back into the darkness.