Billie Holiday hologram

Billy Holiday appears as a hologram.

North Americans have recently been treated to a series of "live" performances by jazz icon Billie Holiday. And while it may only be a moment before you recall that Holiday has been dead for almost 60 years, it's not fake news. Rather Holiday is one of a number of deceased artists who have been brought back to life using imaging technology. Roy Orbison, Michael Jackson and rap artist Tupac have also made appearances in the past few years and there's an Amy Winehouse tour planned for this year. While the images are often referred to as 'holograms', they're actually two dimensional high definition video projections "rigged" to move and perform based on footage of the artist. While the basic technique has been around for a while (it's known as the 'Pepper's ghost illusion'), it's only in recent years that technological advancements have meant the image projections are now starting to become indistinguishable from the real thing and the idea has started to take off. Numerous companies, led by Hologram USA which showcases performances at its Hollywood-based theatre, have now jumped on the bandwagon. Not only does use of such technology mean fans can enjoy an artists' performance even after their demise, it also means their potential to earn money through performances doesn't have to stop at death. But some have raised concerns over the practice, including legal concerns about the ownership of an artist's image and ethical concerns about whether such performances are exploitative. The trend is only in its infancy at this stage but expect the debate to heat up as the notion of seeing your favourite dead musician perform thanks to the power of technology becomes more widespread.