What does immortality cost?
That is a lifelong question, and many strive their whole lives looking to find the answer. Celebrities and musicians are some of the people in the world who come closest. They may not live forever, but in many cases their legacies can live on far beyond their years.
All that being said, who would have thought the ‘70s pop band ABBA would be the ones to finally find the solution and soak in their own fountain of youth, allowing themselves to perform live for eternity?
ABBA recently announced its new London residency in Olympic Park, where you can watch a full ABBA concert performed by digital avatars. These digital avatars are an evolution of the holograms we’ve seen at some concerts in the past, and of the technology used on such shows as “The Mandalorian.” It involves the actual synthesis of motion capture concert recordings with state-of-the-art digital projection technology that creates a full concert that can be replayed for years and years to come, for audiences who simply have to see “Dancing Queen” in the year 2087.
You get to witness ABBA in their disco prime because they transposed older footage digitally enhanced over the motion captures of the actual band performing their greatest hits. Apparently the band performed for weeks in those funny little motion-capture costumes with the light balls all over them in an attempt to record their real movements and performance.
I’m pretty lucky that my favorite band is still out and about and touring. When Pearl Jam is done, I will probably be done going to shows, too, since we’re close enough in age.
When I was a kid, we still had Pink Floyd on tour, but there was also lasting interest in the Pink Floyd Laser Light Experience. It was still the music, but in a different setting. The Grateful Dead have figured out step one of their immortalizations with Dead and Co becoming a viable act that could last with new musicians for years to come.
This digital technology also begs the question of what happens when we all jump headfirst into the metaverse. Will ABBA be the first truly digital performance, with a realistic tone in that environment? I know there are currently concerts by Travis Scott and Ariana Grande, but they are not quite performed to the level of what ABBA is pioneering here. And just for the record, that last sentence referencing ABBA as a digital pioneer was as equally strange to write as it was to read.
The times they a changin’. Those are the immortal words of Bob Dylan, and we are even closer to the immortal image of Bob performing electric for the first time for generations of kids to come.
Why not let all our favorite artists immortalize themselves in this way? After all, live music is one of the most important and most emotionally relevant experiences that human beings have left in the world. I realize these digital avatars are not the real thing, but when the real thing is long gone, why don’t we find a way to create the closest semblance of that live experience for kids of generations to come?
Music has always lasted beyond a generation, and now the performance of that music can be preserved as well, and shared in a communal environment for people to see and experience together.
I am all for this type of technology, provided ticket prices are within reason. I assume the backstage rider for an avatar is significantly less expensive than what is needed by the great bands of all time.