Artist uses AI to imagine how the dead would look now, including Princess Diana and Tupac

'As If Nothing Happened', an ongoing series featuring stars who died young, is making waves online

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A new photo series imagines what dead celebrities would look like if they were still alive — and it's going viral.

Alper Yesiltas, an artist from Turkey, says he used artificial intelligence to create his hyper-realistic pictures, which include portrayals of Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury. It is part of an ongoing series that he's spent months working on.

Called As If Nothing Happened, Yesiltas says he chose famous people he "missed the most" for his series, and is working to add more following the positive response he's received.

One photo, which shows an aged Princess Diana, posted days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month, was particularly resonant. In it, a grey-haired and wrinkled Diana looks at the camera, wearing a white shirt with a pair of sunglasses on top of her head.

Princess Diana, who died in 1997 at the age of 36, would have been 61 today.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from Alper Yasiltas's series

Princess Diana as imagined by Alper Yesiltas. Photo: Alper Yesiltas

Another shows a smiling Jackson, in black-and-white, with a beard and long, curly hair. The music legend, who was 50 when he died in 2009, was known for his struggles with vitiligo, which led to his changing appearance over the years.

In Yesiltas's photo however, Jackson, who would have been 64 today, is shown aged before his reported multiple surgeries.

Michael Jackson as imagined by Yesiltas. Photo: Alper Yesiltas

Others in the series include actor Heath Ledger, who died at 28, singer Janis Joplin (27), Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain (27), guitar hero Jimi Hendrix (27), rapper Tupac Shakur (25) and Beatles singer John Lennon (40).

"With the development of AI technology, anything imaginable can be shown in reality. So when I started tinkering with technology, I thought about what would make me the happiest. I wanted to see some of the people I missed again in front of me and that's how As If Nothing Happened emerged," Yesiltas tells The National.

To create the images, he uses a combination of software, some for obtaining realistic textures and light, others for photo editing.

"The most important part is making the image I'm processing feel realistic to me. Intentionally or unintentionally, I know a lot about the person I'm working with. Naturally, the moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me feels 'real'," he says.

Yesiltas, 39, who lives in Istanbul, is an IT lawyer by profession and says he's always been fascinated by digital art and photography.

He says he's received mostly positive comments for the series, except for a few criticisms about the sunspots on Princess Diana's face and Shakur's wrinkles.

"But in general, I can say that people's reactions have encouraged me for the future," he says.

He says he's looking to develop the series further and is open to suggestions from his followers on social media.

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Updated: September 27, 2022, 2:57 PM
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