Maybe I will repost this after the book is out so that the overlaps here will blow your mind as much as they blow mine (i.e. after you have -- I hope I hope -- read the book), but this just happened, so now seems a good time to write about it. As you maybe heard, last week at the Coachella music festival, rapper Tupac Shakur made a surprise onstage appearance and gave a stirring, provocative performance. This was especially stunning since he was shot to death fifteen years ago.
The ways in which this blows my mind are numerous. For starters, it wasn't, as you'd at first assume, archived footage -- that is, the audience was not just watching a cleverly projected film of a previous performance. Digital Domain, the company responsible for the image, promises, "This is not found footage. This is not archival footage. This is an illusion." Note the boast here: it's not real; it's an illusion. It seems more and more like what impresses us as a society is not what's real but what isn't real.
The projection technology, meanwhile, the technology that makes this look so real and so believable, is decidedly low tech, shockingly low tech in fact. The Tupac appearance was quickly dubbed a hologram which just as quickly caused a zillion people to post online about how in fact it was 2-D whereas a hologram is in fact 3-D. This turns out to be smoke and mirrors, well, mostly mirrors actually. It's projected on mylar so one can both see it and seethrough it so that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg can appear live and rap with Tupac, and you see all of them. I was thinking of Disney's Mary Poppins (1964) where Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke interact with animated animals. I was off. By a hundred years. In 1862, this same essential technology was used to dramatize a Dickens novella.Charles Dickens. 1862.
Now they're talking about a tour. My question is this: is that a technological miracle, a resurrection, the chance for a whole new generation of fans to see a performer there was seemingly no chance they ever would? Or is it going to the movies?
1) This technology: so unfathomably impressive and advanced, it seems the stuff of science fiction
2) This technology: so old, it was first used by the Victorians
3) This technology: so mundane, it's essentially a movie
Charles Dickens: Dead. But real.
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.