Holocaust survivors to discuss the horrors via a 3-D hologram
LOS ANGELES — For years, Holocaust survivor Pinchus Gutter has told the tragic story of watching his parents and 10-year-old twin sister herded into a Nazi death camp's gas chambers so quickly that he had no time to even say goodbye.
He was left instead with an enduring image he has carried with him through 70 years: that of his sister vanishing into a sea of people doomed to die.
Only this time the elderly, balding man wasn't really there as he recounted the horror of the Holocaust to an audience gathered in an auditorium at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
It was the 80-year-old survivor's digital doppelganger, dressed in a white shirt, dark pants and matching vest, that was doing the talking as it gazed intently at its audience, sometimes tapping its feet as it paused to consider a question.
Over the years, elderly Holocaust survivors like Gutter have been leaving behind manuscripts and oral histories of their lives, fearful that once they are gone there will be no one to explain the horror they lived through or to challenge the accounts of Holocaust deniers like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
For the past 18 months, a group led by USC's Shoah Foundation has been trying to change that by creating three-dimensional holograms of nearly a dozen people who survived Nazi Germany's systematic extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.
Like the digital librarian portrayed by Orlando Jones in the 2002 movie “The Time Machine,” the plan is for Gutter and the others to live on in perpetuity, telling generations not born yet the horror they witnessed and offering their thoughts on how to avoid having one of history's darkest moments repeated.
Although people at this week's event saw Gutter as only a two-dimensional figure, he has been painstakingly filmed for hours in 3-D and, perhaps as early as next year according to those involved in the project, his hologram could be talking face-to-face with visitors at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
It will be within five years, said Stephen Smith, the Shoah Foundation's executive director, and Paul Debevec, associate director of the university's Institute for Creative Technologies, which is designing the hologram project's infrastructure.
“Having actually put it together, it's clear this will happen,” said Debevec, whose institute has partnered with Hollywood on such films as “Avatar” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Indeed, it already has almost happened.
More than 15 years after his death, rapper Tupac Shakur made a 3-D hologram-like appearance at last year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, performing alongside a real Snoop Dogg. Technically, Shakur wasn't a hologram, however, because his image was projected onto a thin screen that was all but invisible to the audience.
“This takes it one step further as far as you won't be projecting onto a screen, you'll be projecting into space,” Smith said of the project, called New Dimensions in Testimony.
It's just in time, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is dedicated to keeping alive the history of the Holocaust.
“This generation is coming to an end, unfortunately,” Hier said of Holocaust survivors, whose average age is estimated at 79. “Within the next decade or so there won't be many survivors alive anywhere in the world.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture mismanaged rural program, federal audit shows
- Quarantine lifted, Maine nurse given right to roam
- Medicare paid for drug coverage of patients who had died, investigators say
- Unaccompanied immigrants put heavy strain on schools, charities
- Nurse defies Maine quarantine in standoff over Ebola
- Open encrypted messages by updating technology access law, FBI Director Comey says
- Ebola virus could overwhelm health care system, AP finds
- Headaches linked to weight loss surgery
- Nurse, Akron native who had Ebola discharged from hospital
- At least 4 dead after plane crashes at Kansas airport
- D.C. closer to legalizing sale of pot