I believe you’ve seen AI-generated portraits of people who don’t exist. But artificial intelligence can do more, and actually make us tear up when seeing its creations – it can generate people who once were. It can create portraits of people who are no longer with us and show us what they would look like if they were still alive.
This is exactly what Alper Yesiltas used it for. With help of AI, he reimagined some of the biggest music icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin and others. All of them abandoned us way too young, and Alper’s emotional project shows what they might look like if they were still here.
Alper is a lawyer and an award-winning photographer living in Istanbul, Turkey. He’s been imagining scenes and capturing memories for nearly two decades, with his photos published worldwide in books, magazines, exhibitions, and websites. His latest project is titled As if nothing happened and although he’s a photographer, this one is AI-based. “With the development of AI technology, I’ve been excited for a while, thinking that ‘anything imaginable can be shown in reality,'” the artist writes. “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 question behind this project is “how would people look photo-realistically if some tragic events had not happened to them?” Alper asked himself the question and tried imagining people what those people who died young would look like today. He explains that the hardest part of the creative process was making the image feel “real.” “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks very realistic as if it was taken by a photographer,” he explains.
To create his AI-portraits, Alper uses various software programs. The time it takes him to create an image varies, but it always takes “a while” before it feels realistic enough to be called finished. He has imagined rock and pop stars, but in his project you’ll also see images of an old Princess Diana, Bruce Lee, or Heath Ledger. They may not be musicians, but they are icons in their own regard.