According to an intriguing article in the New York Post, the latest supermodel to appear on the fashion scene is actually nonexistent. As the story goes, the model named Shudu who recently attained internet fame wearing a celebrity brand of lipstick is actually a CGI created by British photographer Cameron-James Wilson. After having kept Shudu's true identity a secret for months, Wilson recently revealed the truth.
As the article points out, Shudu is only one - if arguably the most realistic - of many virtual models to appear on social media. This may be part of a new trend to replace living models with virtual counterparts. After all, there are already music icons in Japan who are entirely computer generated.
Despite the huge advances that have been made in CGI that makes rendering so realistic an image possible, I'm still not sure why photographers would choose to go with a virtual model rather than a real one. Even with all the high tech available, it still must be extremely time consuming and labor intensive to create a digital model when there are so many beautiful living models to choose from. Even after having taken into account the time needed for hair and makeup and that required for post-processing, it sill seems considerably easier to pick up a camera and photograph a living model. The only advantage to a CGI model that I can think of is that it affords the photographer - and the art director behind him - total control. But one wonders if such control would eventually remove all the spontaneity from images and render them contrived and lifeless. Or, on the other hand, has CGI become so sophisticated that there is no longer any means by which to distinguish the real from the virtual?