STAFF REACTIONS: Hologram Tupac at Coachella

On the last night of Coachella, a virtual version of Tupac surprisingly rocked the stage with Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg, creating the most talked about moment of the year, and possibly the decade. The digital holograpic image of the slain rapper, created by San Diego CGI shop AV Concepts, was so crisp and lifelike that there is a debate on whether resurrection of deceased performers could signal the future of the music industry.

So is “Hologram Tupac” a signal of a sweeping digital revolution to come, or is it a scary version of the future? Would you pay to see a hologram of James Brown or Biggie, or should we let their souls rest in peace? We asked our newest Couch Sessions staff members for their reactions.

Jon Heredia, Partner and Brand Manager (@jonnywalkersf)

The unintended consequence of this medium blowing up is the slippery slope argument. Now it’s all good with Tupac and Nate Dogg being present for features, but it may lead to holograms doing entire sets, which steals the well deserved shine (essentially stage time) from artists who are still alive.

Then you get to the money aspect of it all. $100K for the hologram? How about 100K spaced out between four living artists such as Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd?

On the flip, this is just a sign of the times between the marrying of tech and music industries.

Dan Rys, Music Writer (@danrys)

When I first heard the word that Snoop might be busting out a hologram of Tupac or Nate Dogg for his Coachella set, I thought it’d be a nice idea. To me, a hologram meant some archival footage up on the big screen behind them, some old audio of “The Next Episode” or “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” off the records that would get the crowd excited but hardly be a game-changing idea.

Then I, like the rest of the Internet, saw the Holo-Pac footage, and my jaw dropped. He just looked so… solid. So very real.

And then I saw Rob Markman from MTV News’ tweet hypothesizing a hologram Biggie for Jay-Z’s Barclay’s-opening shows this September and the wheels started spinning.

I mean, the best thing about live music is how much live, real energy can be shared between performers and the crowd. But if some of that energy can be bottled, can be replicated, even for one-off events, how fucking cool would it be to replicate some of the best performers and performances in history?

Imagine a live funk band fronted by hologram James Brown from Boston 1968? Hologram Johnny Cash, replicating his Folsom Prison set? B.B. King, live at the Regal Theater 1964, with the man at the apex of his career and vocal power. Right in front of you.

I mean, I was eight years old when Biggie died. My mom was 8 years old when James Brown saved the city of Boston. I’ve seen the King of the Blues before, but not like he was then. Instead of archival concert releases, this could set off a very fascinating trend of archival concert full performances. And I can’t say I would hate it.


Winston “Stone” Ford, Owner and CEO (@couchsessions)

I’m torn. On one hand, this is a marvel of technology. I’ve spent a number of hours yesterday studying how they did it. How did they get a dead person to say “What the fuck is up Coachella?” and perform songs that he’s never performed live? How did they get the speech, look and mannerisms so down pat? Holograms were once the thing of science fiction, but now they can be yours for only $100,000.

This opens up a world of opportunity. Biggie rocking with Jay at the Barclays Center? A Beatles reunion? A Whitney and Amy Winehoue duet? Jay Dilla spinning at your next party? The possibilities are endless.

But this is the problem, we should have embraced these artists when they were living. Instead, we only truly cherish them when when they have passed. Should we get a second chance? It almost seems like we are playing God in a way. I’m excited to see where this technology will take us, but I also feel that embracing these digital holograms will push us further away from reality.

Raymond Herrera, Art and Design Editor (@raidroachkilla)

As if firms like Herzog de Meuron don’t already use some of the most sophisticated building skins with unique materials and forms, and make us think about what defines the perimeter of a building, here comes AV Concepts to throw one more element into the mix. We all saw how AVC brought Tupac back to life during the Coachella festival with Snoop and Dre, and immediately I thought about how many conspiracy videos I was going to allow myself to watch, and the impact on design of course.

Think of the possibilities. A conversation with the Couch Sessions team ensued while watching the Stepkids howling as psychedelic projections covered them, their equipment and their backdrop. And all I could think was if the Stepkids had the estimated hundreds of thousands and the months of man hours it took to produce the resurrection of Tupac, would they take their graphics into three dimensional worlds, or would they bring back the Beach Boys circa 1966? Would they commission art or rebirths?

Think of what the MTV awards sets could be, advertising on Times Square, art installations, and on bigger scales what we could accomplish in building design. Think of what we could do to the Freedom Tower as fireworks ignite before it on the 4th of July on the Hudson. Would we notice the Empire State’s traditional tricolor glow? Port Authority, I have a suggestion for the prismatic glass debacle for the first twenty floors of the Freedom Tower.