Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson takes full advantage of deep fake technology to repeatedly transform himself in the new video for his song, “Self.”
The video was directed by Wilson’s longtime visual collaborator, Miles Skarin, and it opens with the musician facing the camera as he sings along with the propulsive track. Eventually, Wilson’s face starts to shift and, over the course of the clip, he takes on the features of an array of people, including Joe Biden, Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Zuckerberg, Scarlett Johansson, Donald Trump, and David Bowie.
“’Self’ is about our new age of narcissism and self-obsession, 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,” Wilson said in a statement. “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.”
Skarin said the video concept grew out of conversations he and Wilson were having about how the concept of identity has transformed in the digital age. “[Y]our 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,” he 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?”
“Self” appears on Wilson’s most recent album, The Future Bites, which arrived at the end of January. It marks his first solo album since 2017’s To the Bone.