Virtual Influencers become a thing on Instagram

Our daily lives are gradually shifting into the digital sphere. Leaving behind the mortal world, we socialize on the internet, make friends on the internet, fall in love on the internet, and spend our pastime on the internet. Nowadays, It’s the Instagram influencers that set trends, telling thousands of followers how to live this or that lifestyle. And follow we do, religiously.

There is no point in denying that things have already become pretty fake. Manufactured pictures, a little bit of photoshop here and there. A good deal of makeup to (air)brush away the ugly pimple or the way too human looking wrinkles. Flawless beauty is the gold standard, perfect looking, almost non-human. Yes, humans put a lot of effort into artificiality, into creating a better version of themselves. So…why not create a perfect version of a human artificially?

Well, as you might’ve guessed. Somebody has already thought of that. The latest invention is called Imma and she’s an entirely virtual model. And you really have to take a second look. Despite being virtual, Imma looks astonishingly real. Named after the Japanese word ima meaning ‘now’, she has been created by the Tokyo-based CG modeling company ModelingCafe Inc. She’s featured on the cover of this year’s February issue of the computer graphics magazine, CG world. Her mission? “I am a virtual girl. I want to attract humans to the fashion show.” And, of course, Imma has it all – perfect looks, hip style, flawless skin. Looking at her posing in the streets, taking selfies or casually hanging out at a café, she seems human, just like me and you.

Imma Gram 819x1024 1

And she’s not the only one of her kind. One of the pioneers of this new industry is called Lil Miquela who has gained popularity ever since her debut in 2016. Back then her looks were still a bit bumpy and of lower quality than imma is today. However, she set the way into the future.

These models raise the questions: Do we actually care about something being real or is it the mere beauty we admire? Does it matter whether a person and its individuality completely disappears, is sucked into its virtual copy?

Even though, they are fake characters they spark real emotions in their followers. The best example of that is virtual beauty Shudu, a creation of fashion photographer and digital artist Cameron James Wilson. Him being a white male creating an idealized image of a black woman led to criticism amongst his followers. Comments emphasized the existence of real colored women that should be employed as models, not virtual representations of them. However, Wilson defends his creation saying that: “A lot of what we see in media is trying to be less real, with filters and makeup. Shudu is coming from the other direction. She’s a fantasy trying to break through into reality and I have plans to help her do so”

Shudu virtual instagram model

Shudu virtual model

And with that opinion, he doesn’t stand alone. While we have created – and continue to do so – ourselves as virtual alter egos, computer artists are taking a step further and create human-like virtual selves. And, it is likely that in future we’ll be seeing more of this kind of influencers. They are signs of the not-so-far-away future in which technology and humanity become more and more intertwined. And the development has picked up immense pace. Imma, Michaela, and Shudu are just a few examples of what we can expect of the future. Soon we’ll be hearing more of these artificial influencers. Or to put in in imma’s “words”:

hello earth ?

hello human ?

hello ai

Juliane Girl
Juliane Girl

Hey, It's Juliane. I'm from the north of Germany where I study culture, language, and media. At the moment I'm working as an editor with Babylon Radio.

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