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The Edge

Bringing Back the Masterminds of the 27 Club

Image via Accenture Interactive Amsterdam

Unique and beautiful things happen when you build a multidisciplinary and diverse team consisting of creative technologists and designers with backgrounds ranging from architecture and psychology to product design and service design amongst others. If this team then also has the time and space to experiment and play with out-of-the-box ideas that can be applied to different industries and brands, it can turn into a real success story. Here’s one such example of a fascinating experiment at the intersection of design and technology— Bringing Back the Masterminds of the 27 Club, a project by Accenture Interactive Amsterdam, more specifically created and executed by Felipe Tavares, Monique Grimmord, Magno Sousa, Armando Perez, Giovanni Muzio, Lisa Vork, Prakhar Mehrotra, Silviu Agapi, Sebastian Veldman

From Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, these icons of the 27 Club left this world far too soon. The Interactive Amsterdam team made it possible for people to magically reconnect with some of the world’s most creative musicians, artists and actors who all died at the age of 27.

Although the claim of a “statistical spike” for the death of musicians at that age has been repeatedly disproved by research, it remains a cultural phenomenon, documenting the deaths of celebrities, some noted for their high-risk lifestyles. Accenture Interactive Amsterdam built four iconic experiences with the ambition to bring some of these artists back to life using AI to elevate sound and art:

AI Songwriter — via Accenture Interactive Amsterdam

AI Songwriter

Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix — three honourable songwriters that are long gone but whose lyrics we still enjoy today. What if we could speculate on what their lyrics would look like today? “Using an AI algorithm that had been fed with the artists’ lyrics, we asked people to type a word or a sentence on an iPad and based on that, they were presented with a potential future song”, shares Sebastian Veldman, Technology Innovation XR Lead, Iberia

A GIF showing how a simple black and white drawing can be turned into an artwork similar to the style of an artist.
Digital Mural — via Accenture Interactive Amsterdam

Digital Mural

For this installation, the team created an application where users could make a drawing on one screen and see it transformed into a “Basquiat style mural” on another. Again, AI was trained to try and imitate the artists’ unique style, bringing back his paintings through the hands of others.

A blurry GIF of Amy Winehouse moving around
Live Mask — via Accenture Interactive Amsterdam

Live Mask

We won’t be able to meet Amy Winehouse in real life — but we can pretend to, using today’s technological enablers. For this installation, a live ‘mirror’ was created, where instead of people’s own reflection, Amy Winehouse was staring back at them. The machine used the camera input to recognise people’s faces and generated an image of Amy Winehouse with the same facial expression.

Deep Fake 27

Ever wondered what the 27 Club has to say about current day technology? Without knowing for sure, Accenture Interactive Amsterdam used a trick commonly known today (but brand new back in 2019). They partnered up with canny AI to create a deep fake video and merged old footage of the 27 Club members with new footage of themselves, they generated a video in which Amy, Kurt, and Jimi discussed the possibilities of current-day technology.

“The 27 Club is a great example of how a team of diverse individuals is able to create something through experimentation, challenging convention, and including play as part of the design process. Each experience arose from the intersection of a top-down vision that formed the overarching story and a bottom-up approach to technology that defined the specific interactions with each exhibit. The team had a lot of fun creating the 27 Club and this ensured that our visitors also had fun when experiencing the exhibition” — Prakhar Mehrotra, Creative Technology Lead

A series of images showing different people in an event venue, interacting with the 4 installations
Some impressions from the 27 Club event in Amsterdam, 2019

Are you excited about reliving this cultural phenomenon? Reach out to Prakhar who currently leads the creative technology team in Amsterdam to learn more.

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