There still seems to be a lot of talk about the Frank Zappa hologram tour proposed by the ZFT. I've been inundated with questions about what my Dad would have thought about such a thing. Here are my thoughts on the topic.
In my Dad's book, "The Real Frank Zappa Book," he discusses an idea he had for a 3 dimensional delivery system. He specifically states, “This is not a holographic process." He called the idea D.S.S. (Depth Synthesis System). You can read all about it in chapter 18 of his book.
It describes the system as a means of moving content he referred to as "QCI," Quality Content Items. He spoke of the whole system more in terms of a hugely profitable technology system that could be used throughout all forms of media and beyond. In terms of today's uses, it could easily be imagined as a great way to experience filmed entertainment, sporting events and video games.
It’s very probable that pornography will become one of the biggest areas of consumer interest.
On the level of large scale commerce the idea held a good amount of appeal to my father and his description of how it could work and what could be done with it is fascinating.
In any case, there isn't any reference to my Dad having a desire to be turned into a hologram and put out on tour. My Dad does not state in the book that holograms could be any kind of substitute for live musicians. The idea was not presented as a re-animation device for deceased entertainers either.
In fact, the concept of "re-animating" a deceased individual in holographic form for profit was most specifically not discussed.
There is a veritable cornucopia of undetermined rights and clearance issues that would arise from the estates of said individuals, ranging from expired copyrights and trademarks, synchronization rights, to ownership of the "digital puppet asset" itself.
There is also a conundrum about this concept in general. Not unlike attempting to find a job without experience, this concept is unproven to music fans on many levels. Quality is and will continue to be a big issue. Many holographic projects have been attempted and failed. For example, Whitney Houston’s family sidelined a holographic version of her because they weren’t convinced that the quality was good enough. With all due respect, there must be a disturbing combination of emotions people feel when seeing something of poor quality especially when it’s a 3 dimensional representation of their own deceased loved one.
Another underlying question about re-animating entertainers/musicians in holographic form is whether or not the public will approve and be motivated to consume it. It has not been ascertained as to whether or not the public will find this concept to be disrespectful to the artists/entertainer/individuals and their families or if they are ready and willing to shell out hundreds of dollars per ticket to see such a spectacle.
What type of fans will accept these "digital puppets?”
So far, regarding my Dad, his fans have been outspoken in communicating that they do not favor the idea. It would be very difficult to make the leap to say that my Dad would favor the idea himself, given his propensity for exalting music as the very highest art form and live music in general as being the most exhilarating experience in which to display the art. He often talked about the uniqueness of each of his shows and explained that the interactions with audience and the improvisations with his guitar as well as other instruments, were one time events. They only took place in one exact space and time for each particular audience to witness. He put tremendous effort into his work and it shows. He respected his audience for choosing his music, which he referred to as the “World’s Finest Optional Entertainment.”
Just because there are companies chomping at the bit to make a profit with this type of technology doesn't mean they will convince all consumers to fork over their hard earned money.
In the end, it is a choice for the consumer to make. Do they want something real or do they want something fake?"
Let’s also remember, when my Dad was asked how he would like to be remembered he said, "I wouldn't."
He went to say that being remembered was for people like "Reagan.” He didn’t say, "I want to be a hologram so I can sing 'Bobby Brown' in perpetuity."