Following the post-modern dystopia theme of the album, Wilson used deepfake facial mapping technology for the video, transforming himself into a motley crew of notable celebrities, politicians, and musicians. If you’ve ever wanted to see Donald Trump go prog, now’s your chance.
The likes of Joe Biden, David Bowie, Hillary Clinton, Brad Pitt, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Downey Jr., and more appear in Wilson’s influencer choir. The deepfake imaging falls somewhere between convincing and downright terrifying — maybe more toward the latter, since Wilson’s face changes but his hair stays the same, resulting in some bizarre morphs.
“’Self’ is about our new age of narcissism and self-obsession,” Wilson said in a statement [via Rolling Stone], “one in which a human race that used to look out with curiosity at the world and the stars now spends much of its time gazing at a little screen to see themselves reflected back in the mirror of social media.”
He continued: “In that sense, everyone now can take part in the notion of celebrity and has the potential to share their life with an invisible mass of people they will never meet. The video takes things further by exploring the idea that anyone can now project a version of ‘self’ that has no bearing on reality, and by using only well-known faces, the deception is made transparent.”
Wilson created the video alongside longtime video collaborator Miles Skarin, who explained how he achieved the “deepfake” impersonations.
“Your face is not only your key to a lot of the media you consume, it represents who you are — or whom you pretend to be in your online personas,” Skarin said. “One of the most intriguing new developments in recent years has been the ability to create deep fakes, where a computer runs a machine-learning algorithm to predict what one face would look like in another’s pose. Anyone with the right tools and ability can now turn themselves into anyone else, so what does that mean for identity?”
A icon you won’t see in the video is the late Eddie Van Halen. Wilson recently made headlines by saying he was unaffected by the guitarist’s passing in a new interview, dismissing the guitar “shredder” style. In turn, Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen — a fan of Wilson’s band Porcupine Tree — took to Twitter to express his disappointment, but added that he didn’t find Wilson’s remarks “rude”.
Watch the video for “Self” below. Pick up The Future Bites via Amazon.