Now that we’ve all glimpsed Angelina dripping in gold in Hollywood’s tech-marvel Beowulf, ponder this: What does the avatarization of celebrities mean for the future of communication? First, Tom Hanks looked eerie in 2003’s Polar Express; now, four years later, Angelina Jolie has better curves than real life and Ray Winstone sports an iron-man’s six-pack. The cartoon/human hybrids still look off, as if they are moving under water, but you can see where the technology is going. Eventually, CGI and motion capture and live video will converge to the point where any image can be air-brushed instantly. TV video has the potential to become real-time, full-motion PhotoShop.
Which brings us in a few years to a new world — where live broadcasts of anyone, say, a presidential candidate, could be tweaked/shaded/contrasted/hued/wrinkle-reduced to make Hillary or Giuliani look more beautifully handsome.
Artifice has always been with us. Back in college, a good workout buddy of ours went into modeling, and he told us a secret. “You know those women you see in catalogs?” he said. “None of them really look like that.” At age 20, that was a bit of a let-down. Now that we’re in our 40s, we look forward to our own airbrushing.
It’s coming. The technology will arrive. What will we do with it? How will it change us? We may enjoy the ability to project anything … but will we like what we see?