The photorealistic Instagram sensation lilmiquela has many people asking the question, “real or not?” That’s an easy question. Miquela is just like you and me, a brand. Dazed compares Miquela to Amalia Ulman’s Excellence & Perfections, where the artist played out a scripted story of personal metamorphosis on Instagram & Facebook. While Ulman went through an extreme makeover on her social media, Miquela is baffling people with a mix of her obvious computer generated avatar and actual photos with models and celebs. The Independent, Mic. and The Washington Post have all reached out to solve the mystery, but received very few clues.
Regardless of the mystery and very obvious graphics, Miquela has 120,000 followers on Instagram after only 23 weeks. It’s a collection of people fascinated with the mystery and folks with a legitimate interest in Miquela’s life. Currently, the only way to learn more about her life is through Instagram Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
It is no different than if you wanted to learn more about me or anyone here at Awkward. The quickest way is stalking, I mean researching our profiles online. Until you have a conversation with one of us, all you really have is what we share online. In that way, we’re all just brands. Each of us craft the image of ourselves that we want on display like a celebrity or a product. Is Edward Norton the guy who Marvel let go for being difficult and is rumored to be a problem on many films? Or, is he the fun loving guy on late night television?
There’s nothing wrong with being a brand. Just like I’d rather not open a conversation with my poop story, Apple isn’t going to make commercials about antenna gate. If you can create the life you always wanted on the web, who says you have to do it with real photos of yourself? That’s the reason why this story has gained so much traction. We’re used to people creating alternate characters of themselves in immersive games like Second Life or World of Warcraft, but Miquela is doing this on social media.
So is Miquela an art project? Is this a marketing campaign for a product, company or person? The Washington Post said they got an email reply from Miquela, or rather a “major-label music publicist” when they reached out. Perhaps we will learn that Miquela is the daughter of Chris Gaines? Whatever the truth, this is something that may become more frequent as VR and AR come down in price. In fact, Ami Yamato has already been doing it for five years on Youtube. When parents and teachers said, “You can be anything you want to be,” it wasn’t just bullshit. Welcome to the future.