After the buzzworthy performance by the Tupac Shakur “hologram” at Coachella 2012, producers of the illusion frothed with speculation about and promises of the holo-zombie pop apocalypse to come. “This is just the beginning,” promised Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer for the company that had designed the display. Dr. Dre, whose original idea it was to create the digital performance, began discussing plans to tour 2.0Pac, as well as using the same technology to resurrect other dead pop stars, including Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye, and officials at Musion Systems, the London company that created the projection technology, voiced hopes in the press to create “hologram” versions of Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston (who had just passed away two months prior to the 2.0Pac premiere), even pairing a digital Elvis Presley with (shudder) the real Justin Bieber.
Thankfully, frankly, little of that materialized, so to speak. The most we’ve gotten were last summer’s resurrections of two more dead rappers, Eazy-E and ODB, as a centerpiece of the Rock the Bells tour, plus occasional oddities, such as X-Japan’s Yoshiki using the tech this month to perform a piano duet with himself.
A lawsuit filed last week, however, has revived more Barnum-esque barking about death-defying concerts to come.
I'm THOMAS CONNER, Ph.D. in Communication (Science Studies) and culture journalist.