This weeks lecture was really interesting. The topic of manufactured fictions and the impact of Instagram presenting a skewed view of reality is more relevant than ever. This is further added to by the leaps made in AI with Christopher Ume utilising this technology and VFX to create TikTok fakes of Tom Cruice.
The outcome was so effective that it would have been practically impossible to tell that the videos were not Tom Cruise. However, it is worth mentioning that the AI effect was added to a Tom Cruise impressionist a large part of what I feel makes the outcome so impressive. This does however bring up the ethical implications of using someone else’s identity without their permission. As raised in this weeks talk this could be pushed further to recreate people that have died. It is interesting to consider how a persons presence and identity could live on after they die in this way however it wouldn’t really be them and they wouldn’t have control over the way it is used and what their fake recreation says or does.
In an article in the guardian Christopher Ume states
“I’d like to show people the technical possibilities of these things. I don’t intend to use it in any way where I would upset people – I just want to show them what’s possible in a few years.”
The fact that this is moving at such a fast rate is another factor to consider and how far will this technology be pushed before moral and ethical issues are properly considered. These concerns have been raised in articles such as Should advertisers ever bring dead celebrities back to life?. What really jumped out to me in this article were the concerns around the VFX reproduction of Bruce Lee by Johnny Tan, BBH China’s executive creative director, who oversaw the ‘Change the Game’, a Johnnie Walker campaign. Tan talks about his dedication to a realistic reproduction of Lee and responds to negative feedback around the promotional element of the campaign as follow:
“Our purpose was never to have him hawk a product, especially when it was for a whisky brand. When we first started the conversation, we had a common goal and that was to pass on Bruce’s ‘Walk On’ philosophy to the next generation… to inspire them.”
For me, this statement feels a little hollow. Yes, Tan may be passing on of Bruce Lee’s philosophy in the advertisement however, given that Bruce Lee didn’t drink as he deemed it bad “bad for [his] body” attaching Lee’s philosophy to a whiskey brand seems to be me to be at odds with the idea if an authentic recreation of the celebrity icon.
These campaigns do relate to the impact nostalgia can have on advertising. This can be captured in numerous ways including the time-laps approach taken by PlayStation in their which #4thePlayers campaign.
I thought this was a brilliant example of using nostalgia to sell a product particularly as a Playsation is one of the items people grow up with and will update as they get older and as the new versions become popular. I also really liked how the game sounds and the start-up music was such a large feature in the advertisements as every one may not relate to the visual but all avid PlayStation fans will be brought right back to their childhood days when listing to the start-up music that accompanies switching on the device.
This can also be found in The Neverending Story campaign made by Spotify which provides context for some of their listener’s favourite tunes. The Neverending Story had also been used to tug on the heartstrings of viewers in the final episode of Stranger Things, a Netflix series that gained a lot of praise for its captivating authentically created 80s title sequence.
Authenticity is a massive part of any successful business, brand, story or campaign and this can be found no more accurately in citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is described by Britannica as
“journalism that is conducted by people who are not professional journalists but who disseminate information using Web sites, blogs, and social media.”
Citizen journalism can be incredibly powerful presenting live events such as marches, protests and incidents of police brutality. The modern concept of citizen journalism can be dated back to 2000 in South Korea when Oh Yeon-ho stated that “every citizen is a reporter” and Oh Yeon-ho along with three of his colleagues, unhappy with the South Korean press started their own online newspaper OhmyNews.
Another instance of citizen journalism can be found in the captivating story of the fraudulently marketed Fyre festival.
The events of the Fyre festival have been captured on Netflix’s documentary FYRE: The greatest party that never happened. The Fyre Festival has become infamous for its fraudulent marketing campaign selling the ultimate luxury festival experience. The festival used a lavish advertising campaign featuring supermodels such as Bella Hadid and Rose Bertram in the Bahamas presenting the event as an A-lister festival on a private island. The reality however was not reflective of the premium prices paid by customers for this incredible experience.
With luxury yurts actually being disaster tents leftover from Hurricane Matthew and none, existent beach houses being offered free to social influencers, not only was the standard of the accommodation nothing like advertised there also wasn’t enough of it. A pretty chaotic scene appeared to break out as the massive crowd of festive attendees struggled to get tents resulting in a very unsafe scramble to find somewhere to sleep. On top of which tents had been flooded the night before and the promised bands and live entertainment had all pulled out. However, the straw that broke the camels back is said to be a tweet from Trevor DeHaas (shown above) which displayed and a couple of pieces of cheese and bread and stated.
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised was catered by Steveb Starr is literally bread, cheese and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival
Not long after the tweet and the chaos that surrounded it the Fyre festival was cancelled and everyone following a night stuck in a small airport was sent home. To me, this demonstrates the impact of citizen journalism however it also displays the responsibilities of celebrities and influencers.
The Fyre Festival used celebrities and social influencers to endorse the event all of which agreed to do so without knowing what they were endorsing with #FireFestival along with an image of an orange square trending on Instagram and captions including “CAN’t wait for #FireFestival” and “#FireFestival coming up… join me!”. This shows that augmented reality can present itself in more than one form.
Another form of augmented reality can be found in the new phenomena of virtual influencers. But what’s the point? Well apparently as can be read in an article on virtualhumans.com creating virtual celebrities can create jobs. This article states that
On the internet, nobody is human, and the emerging virtual influencer industry capitalizes on this reality.
The article suggests that with the invocation that comes with the development of virtual influencers and the virtual influencer industry. So will come potential employment for creative teams to create the immersive, social and digital fan experience. While a job like this does sound pretty interesting, I still feel there are ethical concerns as you are creating a virtual influencer that will have the potential to misrepresent a group or identity that is being promoted which could have negative knock-on effects.
What have I learnt?
- The world of AI is growing rapidly.
- AI can produce incredibly realistic outcomes of celebrities however they still have to match the performances and personalities of the celebrities to appear authentic.
- Netstogia can be incredibly effective in evoking an emotional response from an audience and this can be used to the advantage of markers and campaigns.
- Authenticity is hugely important when coming from citizen journalists to social influencers and therefore everyone holds a personal responsibility to present some form of truth in the pictures and posts they share online.
How can I apply this to my work in future?
- It is really important to be aware of new industries such as AI and virtual human development as there is the potential for work and invocation in these sectors however ethical concerns should also be considered if I ever decide to move my career in this direction.
- It’s important to be vigilant when making purchases on recommendation from social influences and celebrities as there appears to be a grey area on what is presented as paid advertising and what is not.
- When creating and presenting my own design work I should always strive to be authentic.
- Presenting nostalgia in design can be an incredibly effective way of helping the viewer to connect with your work. This is something I would like to attempt to do in future projects.