Last month’s appearance by Michael Jackson with live dancers at the Billboard Music Awards raised further questions over the right of the deceased to control their image after death.
The Jackson hologram danced and appeared to sing a track he had never released, an effect that took months to perfect and resulted in a lawsuit in the USA for breach of patent rights relating to hologram technology.
Americans were introduced to ‘live’ presentations of dead stars when Tupac Shakur appeared at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival despite having died in 1996.
The Tupac rendition was not in fact a hologram, but created using an old stage illusion known as Pepper’s Ghost, projecting an image onto a reflective screen so that it appears to be elsewhere.
In both cases, however, the dead appeared to act and perform as they never had in life.
As the making of video messages for release after death begin to gain favour, and we accept the idea that people can choose to ‘talk’ to us after their death, it may not be long before those wealthy enough to do so create their own vision of their loved ones.
But if holograms and projections allow you to plant words and actions that the deceased might never have contemplated, can it really be right to do so? Is this taking life after death a step too far? And to what extent can we retain control over our image after our death?
Tupac appearance: How Stuff Works