Miquela (@lilmiquela) – in fact, a Brazilian-American model, performer, and influencer – now has an impressive 3 million Instagram followers. While wearing real clothes from both streetwear brands like Supreme and luxury labels like Chanel, meeting real musicians and artists in actual restaurants and hotspots, she always appears to be enjoying herself. However, we would aspire to a completely out-of-reach goal – literally, she is completely artificial.
She made her debut at Milan Fashion Week in 2018, modeling the Prada collection in a series of 3D-generated gifs; partnered with Givenchy; was featured in a Calvin Klein video with Bella Hadid; and released a song with (real-life) singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor.
CGI utilizes computer software to create still or animated visuals. While most commonly used to describe 3D computer graphics designed to create characters, scenes, and special effects in movies and video games, CGI is also used to describe the creation of images. Advertising, architecture, engineering, virtual reality and even art also use this technology.
Lil Miquela, needless to say, is only one example of a CGI model or influencer, that is, a virtual human being modeled and handcrafted by designers and programmers.
For example, in 2019 the diigitals launched the first all-digital model agency. They created @shudu.gram, the first digital supermodel with campaigns that include work for Samsung, Lexus USA, Ferragamo and others.
Obviously, this led to several digital-only Fashion Week events, such as Patrick Mc Dowell and "Vatican City in the Clouds" or London designers Damara Inglês & SUTU with their "SYMBIOTIC_WEAR", a fully immersive fashion experience. Her presentation was a virtual reality fashion event produced by creative agency Ryot Studio (which is part of Verizon) and Fashion Innovation Agency and designed for virtual reality headsets.
It was also in June 2020 that Helsinki Fashion Week decided to go beyond a physical event in the Finnish capital and had hired 3D architects and 3D designers. Nearly one hundred shoppers were invited to attend Helsinki Fashion Week and experience a remote shopping experience, while designers had the opportunity to sell their digital products in their own "Digital Village." A metaverse created by NDA Paris and Soldats Films.
Artificial Synthetic Talent
David Lim is a former China head of Elite Model Managment and launched a venture called "iCloudModel"; said to be one of China's first virtual model management agencies. A joint partnership of iCloudModel (ICM) and Mad Street Den (MSD) (Vue.ai‘s parent company), a computer vision and artificial intelligence company, can represent a model's clothing. From the silhouette, type of sleeves, neckline, design elements, patterns to body parts, shape, musculature and skin tone, the Generative Adversial Network (GAN) constructs the clothes tailored to the model and the model itself. Everything underwent training on high-performance computers using a large amount of data over a period of several days.
Zalando, a German e-commerce company, has also issued published research using the GAN technique. The team of researchers developed an AI system capable of transferring customizable clothing and body positions from a fashion model. They used an architecture based primarily on StyleGAN, a technology that NVIDIA first released in 2018.
As a hybrid offer – iCloudModel's shooting studio consists of a digital camera connected to a computer, a mannequin and a green screen in the background. The company assists brands in photographing each garment and later transferring them to digital models. This speeds up shooting 150 to 200 looks in one go - eliminating the need for models, photographers, hair and makeup artists to work the "regular" 15-hour days, and post-production to boot.
Since its launch in 2016, Redwood City-based Vue.ai's smart retail tools, such as Vuex, the tool that creates personalized journeys; VueTag, the data extraction tool; and VueModel, which provides AI-generated fashion images, have been used by companies such as Farfetch, Depop, Off-White, Diesel, Rent the Runway and ThredUp.
PRISM – Sensorium Galaxy
A digital metaverse called Sensorium Galaxy has unveiled its first virtual world called "PRISM." The venture was formed by billionaire Mikhair Prokhorv and former owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
Performances by world-leading electronic music artists such as Carl Cox, David Guetta, Steve Aoki and a host of others will take place in its first world. The Metaverse, interestingly, allows for the creation of "virtual beings," AI-controlled characters that live in the Sensorium galaxy. These characters uniformly have a backstory, an ultra-realistic appearance, and a singular personality that unfolds in dialogues and interactions.
Kàra Màr is one of these AI-controlled virtual artists. In one first public performance, Kàra Màr played constantly changing generative music together with world-famous DJs. In addition to one performances, Kàra Màr interacts with one fans and pioneers the concept of social AI-controlled artists via text chats and video calls in the Sensorium Galaxy mobile app.
The symbiosis of AI Synthetic Talent, PFP and NFT
About two years ago, I wrote about the origin of NFTs. It basically took until 2021 for PFP NFTs to be the talk of the town. No matter if Bored Ape Yacht Club, ON1 Force or Meebits. If you want to read more about the topic, I recommend reading this (still current) article…
Since we are now in 2022 the question is where we are actually heading to?
Internet Game & FN Meka
FN Meka is the AI SoundCloud rapper and TikTok character who has amassed a large following on both Instagram and TikTok. In December 2019, FN Meka went viral on TikTok when he debuted his animated Gucci cyber truck. Moreover, the virtual artist not only creates music, he also sells NFTs. He recently sold a Lamborghini-style NFT to Dutch DJ Don Diablo for $6,500. The virtual drop was actually designed as a toilet called "SUPER TOILET".
His latest involvement is Internet Game essentially a HQ (trivia video game) meets Squid Game that uses NFTs and is hosted by FN Meka.
The 5-day elimination contest gives an opportunity for players to win Blue Chip NFTs (BAYC, MAYC, Cryptoadz, Cool Cats, etc.).
To those lucky ones who make it to the whitelist, the entry fee is 0.05 ETH. 60% of all funds raised will be used to purchase blue-chip NFTs, which will be voted on in the Internet Game Discord. 40% will be used for operations and the next game round/prizes.
A Metaverse Access Pass (MAC), an NFT that grants them access to all future Internet Games, as well as exclusive membership to the Internet Game Metaverse and community, will be awarded to all players who make it through all 5 games without being eliminated.
Kizuna AI, among the most popular VTubers (virtual YouTubers) in the world, will be selling NFTs. The virtual idol announced an indefinite hiatus from streaming on YouTube and said that in the meantime she will be contacting her fans about the metaverse and selling NFTs.
In September 2021, the virtual influencer collaborated with Metaani for the launch of a crypto-art project. The collaboration featured 11 Metaani wearing Kizuna AI's iconic heart-shaped headband. Each NFT also included thumbnails from their YouTube videos. The NFTs are currently priced at a floor price of 0.45 ETH and trading volume of 146 ETH on OpenSea (February, 15th 2022).
Turn Lil Miquela into a DAO
Lil Miquela's founding company, Brud, was acquired by NFT company Dapper Labs in October 2021. However, while Brud plans to turn Lil Miquela into a DAO, or at least be as decentralized as possible.
Since day one, Brud has aimed to create new models for storytelling. And we did. We created Miquela, and 8 million fans stepped in to help her make a massive impact on culture. But we want to do more. We want to tell bigger and more powerful stories, ones that can be opened up and shaped by our community. Yet with the current centralized model, restricted by closed platforms, it's hard for us to truly empower the community further.
That’s why, beginning this year, we are opening an ecosystem of community-powered technologies for building stories and worlds. We will put our future— our story writing, our creative tooling, and our decision making— in the hands of fans, creators, and believers. Let’s create an entirely new way to tell stories together.
Dapper Labs will be supporting Brud in building a new business unit focused on decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Brud founder Trevor McFedries also has another company focused on the "future of culture": Friends With Benefits, or FWB. FWB is now an Ethereum-based DAO united by its social token $FWB. The group is focused on building the web3 world to embody an intersection of technology and cultural communities, according to its manifesto. (cf. Social Tokens & co-operative societies)
Now, Dapper Labs is able to leverage its community-building capabilities to create a new entity called Dapper Collectives, which will focus on community, decentralized ownership and governance on the Flow blockchain.
The merging of NFT as an asset and DAOs as a way to manage organizations with the power of social (virtual) influencers may NOT be new in and of itself, but bringing it all together could provide new opportunities for how we lead, shape and scale new forms of businesses and organizations. It's impressive how currently, viable organisms are evolving.
In the future, these autonomous virtual hosts will probably no longer work for a company. Instead, they will generate income in a non-traditional way by performing actions that we cannot even imagine at this point.
- Virtual Humans, News Platform
- Xanadu, virtual production YouTube series
- DAOs want to reshape fashion. Here’s what brands need to know (Vogue Business)
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