The scandal-dogged politician appeared to supporters at a rally in the form of a hologram

29th Jan 2014 – Recep Tayyip Erdogan: the Turkish prime minister who isn’t all there. The scandal-dogged politician appeared to supporters at a rally in the form of a hologram.

Name: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Age: 59

Appearance: Fleeting, evanescent.

Is he a ghost? No, he’s alive. In fact, he’s the prime minister of Turkey.

So what is he, in hiding? No, he’s just busy. Erdogan was unable to attend last Sunday’s rally for the ruling Justice and Development party, so he made alternative arrangements.

He sent a trusted emissary? No, he sent a giant hologram of himself.

You’re making that up. Not at all. Erdogan’s projected avatar spoke to cheering supporters, saying: “We are going to elections in the shadow of attacks prepared by treasonous networks.”

Funny, that’s exactly the sort cryptic, haunting thing you would expect a ghost to say. Erdogan’s government is currently mired in a damaging corruption scandal – three ministers have resigned – but Erdogan blames the investigation of misdeeds involving a state-run bank on “external and internal dark groups” and a “parallel structure” within the state.

What does that mean? He’s basically saying he’s the victim of shadowy forces inside government.

That’s a bit rich coming from a giant hologram. Is he the first person in history to do this weird thing? He’s not even the first politician. During his 2012 campaign for reelection, Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, beamed his speechifying avatar to 53 different sites simultaneously, earning himself a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Did he win? He did. And that same year holography was famously used to project an image of deceased rapper Tupac on to a stage, where it performed alongside Snoop Dogg. Even Prince Charles once deployed a hologram to make a virtual appearance at the World Future Energy Summit.

Does the technology have any non-creepy applications? Not so far, no.

How does it work? It’s quite simple: a three-dimensional image is projected in two dimensions on to a special transparent foil. The result is not a true hologram, but it does create the illusion of a figure in space.

I don’t get it. Me neither. Would you mind asking someone else?

Do say: “It’s so great to see you here, prime minister!”

Don’t say: “Can I shake your hand?”


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