Had the great Freddie Mercury not succumbed to illness in 1991, he would have turned 76 earlier this month. And while we’ll never know what turns the late Queen frontman’s career might have taken in the 35 years since, a new art project has shed light on how he may have physically aged.
This is possible through the work of Alper Yesiltas, a lawyer and photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. His As If Nothing Happened project takes old images of musicians and celebrities and then – through the magic of artificial intelligence and photo manipulation – ages the subject to make them appear as they might were they still alive.
“With the development of AI technology, I’ve been excited that anything imaginable can be shown in reality,” Yesiltas tells us. “When I started tinkering with the technology, I saw what I could do and wondered about what would make me the happiest. I wanted to see some of the people I missed in front of me again, and that’s how As If Nothing Happened emerged.”
The poignant images, which somehow manage to retain the presence and spirit of the musicians as they were, also include photographs of Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur, as well as celebrities like Heath Ledger and Princess Diana.
“The most important part is making the image I’m processing feel realistic to me,” says Yesiltas. “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’.”
To see more of Alper Yesiltas’s work, follow him on Instagram (opens in new tab).