Amy and the Holograms: a revival of Amy Winehouse’s legacy or an exploitation of her name for money made of smoke and mirrors?

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By Linda Kritikou

Base Hologram is a company dedicated to bringing dead people back to life. No, this is not science fiction, it’s our reality. The firm has been behind hologram revivals of some of the most beloved dearly departed singers; such as Tupac in 2012 Coachella Festival, Michael Jackson in 2014 Billboard Awards and Maria Callas whose hologram is still on tour. The company uses special effects to create a 3-D illusion. In other words, it is a life-like image which revives stars for fans who miss them or for audiences who didn’t have the chance to see them while they were alive.

The newest awakened hologram is set to be the soul singer Amy Winehouse, who died seven years ago from accidental alcohol poisoning. She was 27 years old, and she had released only two albums Frank and Back to Black which both became triple platinum in UK.

Holograms might seem magical and just like Amy’s father said, “to see her perform again is something special that really can’t be put into words. Our daughter’s music touched the lives of millions of people and it means everything that her legacy will continue in this innovative and ground-breaking way”. It might mean the world to her family to ‘see’ her again, however, it’s not magic, it’s just software occupied by a live orchestra. Why would people pay to see a pop-star who doesn’t exist? Why should we replace real-life performers with a singer whose fame was amplified by the time she became a legend? Is it actually because they want to celebrate her legacy or make money out of her name?

Concerning that, the possibilities of achieving financial gains by using her are endless. Yet, this is not the case. Instead, the tour will raise will raise money to support the Amy Winehouse Foundation which educates people on drugs and alcohol. In using the hologram tour to support the foundation it adds an extra layer of legitimacy to what without the charity link may have been seem as corporate exploitation of her image.

Along with that, Amy Winehouse was an extraordinary individual with a huge contribution to the music industry. Her stage presence, her warmth, her spontaneous words and different ways of singing each time was everything she had. The energy she could radiate to her audience will never be recreated by any type of hologram. Yes, we could say that a ‘pepper’s ghost’ could provide fans with a window into the stars’ music persona; but how is this different than watching Amy’s video performances on YouTube? The hologram show and its purpose clearly contribute to the further manipulation of a woman who always gave her life on stage, until her deep struggles with drugs and alcohol killed her.

I feel that what people see through holograms is just a trick of the light which can never substitute everything that makes a human being special. A figure made in a digital lab could never please me and replace the way a performer makes me feel while being on stage, alive. Nevertheless, this is my opinion and I am sure Base Hologram’s interests surely don’t fit with it. Hence, I can easily predict that in some years we will have Avicii back, doing a DJ set in Ibiza or even Cher as she was back in the 1990’s. For the time being, what I can be sure about is that audiences will be overpaying for some smoke and mirrors.