If you have ever wondered what some members of the “27 Club” or artists who died too soon would look like if they were still alive today, one artist has brought Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and more music legends “back to life” using AI technology.
Through his project “As If Nothing Happened,” Turkish artist Alper Yesiltas used a combination of AI technology to create portraits of musical artists and how they would look in the present day, including Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse as well as Heath Ledger, Bruce Lee, and Princess Diana.
“Behind this project lies the question of “how would people look photo-realistically if some great events had not happened to them,” wrote Yesiltas on the project site.
Yesiltas, a photographer and lawyer based in Istanbul, Turkey said he has been “imagining scenes and capturing memories for about 19 years,” with many of his images featured in exhibits, books, magazines, and other mediums.
“With the development of AI technology, I’ve been excited for a while, thinking that ‘anything imaginable can be shown in reality,’” said Yesiltas in a statement. “When I started tinkering with technology, I saw what I could do and thought about what would make me the happiest. I wanted to see some of the people I missed again in front of me and that’s how this project emerged.”
The artist told American Songwriter that one of his favorite AI-created renderings is of Michael Jackson. “He looks so real,” said Yesiltas, “and natural to me.”
To create the images, Yesiltas used a combination of photo editing programs, including Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, and the AI photo enhancer Remini.
“I am using various software—some for obtaining realistic textures and light, others for photo editing (people around me were considering me as a good photo editor for some time),” Yesiltas told American Songwriter. “The most important part is making the image I’m processing feel realistic to me. Intentionally or unintentionally, I know a lot about the person I’m working with.”
Of the production process, he added, “Naturally, the moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me feels real. The time I spend with a single image varies, but I would say it takes a while.”
On the music side, other AI enthusiasts have been using the technology to reimagine artists today. In 2021, the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club project created present-day songs in the style of Hendrix and Cobain with Google’s AI program Magenta.
Yesiltas is currently working on the next batch of artist photographs … as if nothing happened.
Check out some of Yesilta’s musical renderings below and his full “As if Nothing Happened” collection of images HERE.
Photos: Courtesy of Alper Yesiltas