As reported earlier on Wednesday, Selena Quintanilla will now be digitally re-created through an ambitious new project titled “Selena the One.” Billboard spoke to the late singer’s sister, Suzette, who confirmed the news and gave details on the project, which is being described as a “walking, talking, singing and dancing digital embodiment” of the Mexican American icon.
Beyond a hologram, it seeks to “impose an individual’s biological information into a digital environment,” according to Acrovirt LLC, the Nevada-based independent tech company behind it. “Using detailed individual personalized functions spanning the mind, brain and body, the individual’s Digitized Human Essence will autonomously learn and react on behalf of its human counterpart’s.”
Suzette left the technical explanation of the project to Acrovirt, but expressed the family’s support and enthusiasm for the project, the announcement of which comes a week after the 20th anniversary of Selena’s death and before the Fiesta de la Flor festival held each year in her honor in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“By no means is this something that’s creepy or weird,” Suzette told Billboard during a phone interview Wednesday (April 8). “We think it’s something amazing. A lot of the new fans that did not get to experience what Selena was about hopefully will be able to get a sense of her with this new technology that’s going to be coming out.”
Suzette said Acrovirt approached the Quintanilla family last year to discuss the possibility of a Selena Digitized Human Essence, and their proposal piqued their interest — particularly because it would be the first project of its kind.
After multiple meetings, the family agreed to green-light it. The project’s official site, SelenaTheOne.com, states that an Indiegogo campaign beginning April 16 will seek to raise half a million dollars toward its completion.
“I’m excited at the fact that she will be the first-ever and the fact that she’s a Latina makes it even more awesome,” says Suzette, adding that the technology is “so interesting and mind-blowing that we just felt as a family that this is definitely something we’d want them to do with Selena.”
Suzette cautions that “it’s not about replacing Selena in any shape, way or form; it’s just something to help her legacy continue growing.”
The late singer’s sister added that the family has been sending Acrovirt “lots of photos, video footage and materials to help them properly represent her.”
Acrovirt has a partnership with the University of California, San Diego for the research and development of the Digitized Human Essence technology, which ostensibly will make it possible for Selena to release new material and even embark on a tour in 2018.
Selena’s sister declined to give details about any new songs, but she did say, “It’s about being able to see Selena sing again, for example, doing the ‘Dreaming of You’ music video and it’s her.”
Suzette added that the family had previously met with San Diego-based AV Concepts — the company behind the Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella in 2012 — to discuss the possibility of a hologram, but those plans fell through because the Selena projection felt “not real enough and almost cartoon-ish.”
As for a timeline, Suzette said the goal is to complete the “Selena the One” project by 2017 or 2018.
“People don’t realize how fast technology is moving,” she added. “This is something that we’re building for another two to three years, so when 2018 comes around they’ll be like, ‘Oh, OK, we get it.’”