Photographer uses AI to imagine what deceased celebrities would look like if they were alive today
A photographer has shared a collection of images he created using artificial intelligence that imagines what notable personalities and celebrities would look like if they were alive today.
Alper Yesiltas, a lawyer who lives in Istanbul, Turkey, has spent the past 19 years “imagining scenes and capturing memories”, according to a writing he wrote for BoredPanda.
For its AI-based debut collectionYesiltas set out to imagine what people would look like “photorealistically if big things hadn’t happened to them”, with the project titled “As If Nothing Happened”, depicting how individuals such as Princess Diana , Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain would be watching if they weren’t dead.
In the first image in the collection, Yesiltas used AI to imagine what British singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury would have looked like had he not died aged 45 from bronchial pneumonia due to to AIDS-related complications.
In the photo, Mercury, who could be seen wearing a white button and black suspenders, is imagined to have graying hair, with his mustache also taking on the same silver hue.
The collection also includes a rendition of Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27. In her photo, shared on her Instagram page, Winehouse is pictured looking a little older and posing with a guitar, with the singer, whose dark hair has been left, smiling broadly.
Yesiltas also sought to imagine what Heath Ledger would be like if he hadn’t died aged 28 from an accidental overdose, with the image showing the Aussie actor up close as he stares into the camera. In the photo, Ledger’s hair is seen turning gray, while wrinkles form around his eyes.
For the project, the photographer also used AI to depict what Princess Diana might have looked like if she hadn’t died in a car accident at the age of 36. In the photo, Diana, who held the title of Princess of Wales during her lifetime, smiles slightly, with her skin showing both wrinkles and age spots.
In the photo, the royal’s blonde hair turned almost white, with a pair of sunglasses placed on her head.
The project also saw Yesiltas produce images of celebrities such as Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee and 2Pac.
On BoredPanda and social media, where the photographer shared the images, viewers were moved by the results, with many sharing their emotional reactions to the AI creations.
“Love to see that. Michael was naturally super handsome and it would have been wonderful to see him like that,” one person captioned the “Beat It” singer’s photo, while another said, ” I love it so much. So surreal. So sweet. So alive.”
In the comments under Lennon’s photo, someone else called the photos “peaceful.”
“Amazing. These images radiate so much peace to me,” they wrote.
As for how Yesiltas came up with the idea for the project, he wrote that the concept came to him thinking about what would make him “happiest”.
“When I started tinkering with technology, I saw what I could do and thought about what would make me happiest. I wanted to see some of the people I missed in front of me again and that’s as well as this project emerged,” he wrote.
Talk to The Independent, the photographer said the reactions to the photos, which were mostly positive, encouraged him for the future. “I had mostly positive comments. There was also a lot of controversy. But in general, I can say that people’s reactions encourage me for the future. I see artificial intelligence as a tool capable of activating emotions that people didn’t know existed before. This comes from the limitlessness of artificial intelligence in the imagination when properly guided by a human,” he said.
Yesiltas also discussed the process used to create the images, which he said requires the use of “various software.”
“Some for getting realistic textures and lights, some for photo editing (people around me had considered me a good photo retoucher for a while). The most important part is making the image I’m processing look realistic to me,” he explained. “Intentionally or not, I know a lot about the person I’m working with. Naturally, the moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks “real”. I start working on a state that I would like it to always stay that way. The amount of time I spend with a single image varies, but I would say it takes ‘a while.’
As for his favorite celebrity to imagine, Yesiltas said it was probably Michael Jackson, since he started with the singer. “With the development of AI technology, I was excited for a while thinking that ‘everything imaginable can be shown in reality,'” he said.