Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You’re My Only Vote… (Holographic Technology During Election Time)
Cover Image: Luke & Obi-Wan look at a holographic message of Narendra Modi Created by: Wizzy Wiig
What do Tu-Pac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Narendra Modi all have in common? Holograms… that’s right holograms. Just like the infamous scene in “Star Wars”, the three people mentioned above have found fame in one form or another in the 3D realm, captivating audiences all over the world. But wait… you don’t know who Narendra Modi is you say? Well I will get to that, but first a little Hologram History 101.
A hologram is a photographic recording of a light field, rather than of an image formed by a lens, and is used to display a fully 3-Dimensional object. Ever since Hungarian-British physicist Dennis Gabor won the Nobel Prize for physics in the 1940’s, this technology has made its way into laboratories all over the world and into the minds of science fictions writers.
Fast forward to 2012 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival; audiences’ minds were blown when the deceased rapper Tu-Pac Shakur came on stage for a reunion with fellow rapper Dr. Dre and Snoop Lion (formally Snoop Dog) performing hit Tu-Pac song (All Eyes on Me). The technology masterpiece was created by special effects production house Digital Domain, (the company that did the SFX for Brad Pitt in “Benjamin Button” and won an academy award for Titanic). It took almost a year of planning and work and a range of $100K-$400K to bring the artist back to life in a spectacular show still talked about to this day. Click here to watch the 2012 Tupac Hologram Perform at Coachella
That brings me to Narendra Modi in the Indian national election campaign in 2014. You see, Modi wasn’t in a position like Hillary Clinton where most people feel like she’ll get the nod for the Democratic Party. Modi is more like a Ross Perot. If you do not know how a democratic election works, each state or province as an electorate, depending on the population and the candidate running who gets the most electoral votes win the office. To put the amount of electoral votes in perspective, the US has 538 and India had 813, which represents India’s voting influence and massive population.
The campaign trail for any political candidate is a grueling gauntlet of city after city and state after state, sometimes different cities and states in the same day. The goal for the candidate is to try and spread their views into the eyes and ears of as many voters as humanly possible, and get their support. The other factor you need to keep in mind is that due to the large population of India and their limitations on certain technologies available to the average Joe, India elections can last for up to 6 weeks to allow all registered voters to pilgrimage to the booths and cast their votes.
On the plus side, this helps the candidates do a final push to try and change people’s minds. That is where Narendra Modi stepped in like a “rockstar” and changed the game. In an unprecedented turn of events, the underdog BJP party candidate holographed himself out to hundreds of cities and towns across India and spoke to the voters just before casting their ballot. Modi spoke to millions of people at once, in real time, swaying enough votes to sweep the election and put the BJP party back in office.
Although this was a huge win for Modi and speaks volumes to the power the hologram technology, the hologram idea as a whole does have its downside, and in my eyes it is the lack of humanity. When a person is being hologrammed around a whole country, it is very difficult to chat and ask real-time questions, which leaves the viewer feeling like they just watched an expensive movie. Additionally, the technology is wonky in general.
With a high profile person who’s words are analyzed and scrutinized, any cut outs or mis-translations that might sound good to one group but not another could be an epic downfall that could actually work against the idea of mass personal presentation.
The technology is also extremely specialized and expensive to pull off, so at this point it is only used by the super rich or political candidates with deep pockets, (I’m looking at you Donald Trump). From an entertainment perspective this technology, like the Coachella concert, was a one-off novelty not indicative of elevating ticket prices. I could see ILM (Industrial Lights and Magic) or Pixar using this technology to elevate their movie game, but this could be reflected in increasing already high ticket prices, which the public does not want to see any more.
I remember back in 1995, it was a big deal that Robert Zemeckis directed an episode of “Tales from the Crypt”, titled: “You, Murder”, in which they used CGI and hologram technology to put Humphrey Bogart who died decades ago as the main character in a murder mystery. After that episode aired it opened to door for allowing actors post posthumously to star in movies, and set our imaginations a much. As you can see, the idea of using talent after their physical bodies are long gone is not new, I mean, the holographic technology helped get Princess Leia’s plea for help to Luke, fast forward, helped gangsta rap reunite on the stage to perform, and helped an underdog politician in a 3rd world country make his presence known. With the tragic death of Paul Walker and how special effects outlets joining forces to help Fast 7 put a moving tribute together the conversation of using deceased celebrities in their movies, and promoters like Live Nation tinkering around with using the holographic technology to bring an influx of bands touring to your neck of the woods more frequently, this technology is here are I for one am extremely excited.
Could you imagine Hillary Clinton doing her best “Mars Attacks” alien sounding scream that she is going to re-build America as you’re walking into the booth to vote? Would you like to see “The Donald” remind you that America is weak and needs him? How about having the original Lynyrd Skynard perform in your town’s community park? All of these options are in the close-to-distant-future, and as the years go on, like most technology, there will be breakthroughs that will make this technology cheaper and more accessible to the public. Hell, if I got my hands on it I would never go to work and have my hologram show up and sit in my place during meetings. Who would you like to see dead or alive perform at your school cafétorium or pop up in the next summer blockbuster? Sound off below and until next time, this is Scootin’ Scooter from EchoBase.