A Digital Supermodel

Cameron-James Wilson, 31, founded an agency for digital models in London in 2019, The Diigitals. He is the creator of the digital supermodel Shudu. “Since baffling the fashion and modeling world at large, he’s added virtuals Galaxia, Brenn, Dagny, Koffi, Margot, and Zhi to the Gram family.” (Virtual Humans, 4 May 2020) Galaxia is an alien model and has long, pointed ears and a long neck. Koffi is a male virtual influencer with a muscle-rich body, which he likes to show in sparse clothing. Shudu is the most famous avatar of the agency. At this year’s digital fashion shows in Paris and Milan, a number of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) models and avatars presented the new looks. Shudu was not there, which the creator explains in a SPIEGEL interview by the fact that it is still difficult to animate her to move like a real person. At the end Barbara Markert asks him what Shudu means to him. He answers: “It may sound crazy, but I feel a responsibility for this woman and the community she represents.” (SPIEGEL, 9 December 2020, own translation)

The Resurrection of Dead Authors

lyrikline.org is an interesting and touching project. The writers themselves read their works. You can listen to Ingeborg Bachmann as well as Paul Celan. Spoken literature has been booming in Europe and the USA for about 15 years. The Chinese discovered audio books some time ago. Basically it is time-consuming and expensive to produce such books professionally. Moreover, the authors are not always available. The Chinese search engine Sogou wants to solve this problem with the help of visualization technology and artificial intelligence. It creates avatars of the authors who speak with the voice of the authors. “At the China Online Literature+ conference, the company announced that the first two authors to receive this avatar treatment will be Yue Guan and Bu Xin Tian Shang Diao Xian Bing … If these first AI author avatars are well-received, others could follow – and that could just be the jumping-off point. A company could produce book readings by deceased authors, for example, as long as enough audio and video footage exists. Eventually, they could even incorporate hologram technology to really give bibliophiles the feeling of being at their favorite author’s reading.” (futurism.com, 15 August 2019) So you could have Ingeborg Bachmann or Charles Bukowski read all of their own texts and watch them, many years after their death. Whether the results really sound like the originals, whether they influence us just as emotionally, can be doubted. But there is no doubt that this is an exciting project.