This article analyses the ‘live’ virtual human in ABBA Voyage, the long-awaited concert reunion of the Swedish pop group ABBA, via Vilém Flusser’s concept of the digital apparition. It first argues for these virtual performers (dubbed ‘ABBA-tars’) to be understood as externalized computational codes which shift the grounds of ownership over and consent to the use of one’s likeness. They are also key to disproportionate and as yet unaccountable power held by technology companies. Secondly, ABBA Voyage’s presentation of ABBA as their past selves places time in a capitalism of immateriality profiting from the protean temporality of bodies. This temporal discombobulation thwarts finitude and confounds time in meanings of life, death and growth. The article thus addresses urgent confrontations between actual and virtual humans placed in the same physical environment, and paves the way for thinking about how we are going to deal and live with their virtuality.
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- virtual humans
- ABBA Voyage
- virtual performance
- mixed reality