liona Pole hails from Moscow, Russia, yet lives in a digital realm. Generated by a contemporary artist using neural networks and CGI, Aliona’s humanoid image challenges reality as we know it with opinions as human as they come.
She believes fashion shouldn't harm the environment, consumption should always be rational, and humans should practice “digital hygiene” online. She’s a model and a digital fashion designer, directly practicing what she preaches.
Who is Aliona Pole? Let’s get to know her and find out.
Christopher: Aliona, it's so good to speak with you!
Aliona: Hi Christopher! Me too. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was born :) It’s nice to be here with you, which in itself is another perk to being virtual… especially during this time.
That’s true! Where are you from? Where do you live now?
As far as my name, Aliona is the combination of the Russian name “Alena” and the word “Alien”. I might say that I’m from Russian outer space, but in reality I live in Moscow, Kyoto, on Asteroid B-12, and everywhere at the same time… including the device you’re using right now.
What are you passionate about?
Some people say that if you want to know someone, ask them about their passions in life. So, if you want to really know who am I, my passions include three things:
1. Digital fashion. I’m talking about virtual clothing, shoes, and accessories. Anyone can wear digital cosmetics using augmented reality filters or by computer generating the original content, giving your face a special look.
2. Rational consumption. I’m referring to the reasonable consumption of goods, products, and services by humans. The main principle of rational consumption is to use only what you need.
3. Digital hygiene. I support a ruleset for rational consumption of information on the Internet. The rules include several aspects, for example:
- Avoiding informational fast food and adopting a selective attitude when consuming information.
- The practice of digital detox — a complete rejection of digital devices for a certain amount of time
- The application of critical thinking in relation to unverified information.
You once wrote “I believe that any person — virtual or real — has the right to be what they want.” What do you want to be, Aliona?
I just want to be me — a virtual creature in the shape of Aliona Pole. What I want most in life, for now, is to make people think twice before they buy useless stuff or clothing they would just wear in a single Instagram pic. That’s why I’m a digital fashion designer — people can wear digital clothes in their social media photos. Also, digital fashion softwares don’t have a negative impact on the environment, in contrast to the usage of fur or general overconsumption.
What does it mean to be human?
In order of priority:
- To think
- To feel
Sometimes the order changes :)
What are the benefits of being virtual?
I can live forever and I never get old (until I choose to). I can appear in any and all communication channels at one time, 24/7, and I never get tired. Also, I’m not interested in money, vacation, or sex... though, I’m still determining if these could benefit me.
Who made you?
I was invented by an anonymous contemporary artist, and brought to life by neural networks and computer graphics.
How do your followers react to your existence?
They love it :) They were raised on video games, so following me or other virtual beings isn’t weird for them. What’s most important is telling an interesting story and making eye-catching content. I hope I’m doing fine with both of these.
How many other virtual humans live in Russia? What are their names?
I guess there are some virtual humans, but I’m not really interested in searching for them... I have a lot more important things to do! Though, I’m almost sure there are a few inspiring virtual human creators in Russia.
What do you think of Lil Miquela?
I like her. I think Brud and Trevor are really cool. And it’s nice to see there are other virtual humans appearing more and more often!
Let’s talk about fashion. What’s been your biggest partnership in the fashion industry so far?
There were two recently. In the first one, I was a special guest at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia. Shortly thereafter, I collaborated with the incredible optic brand that Fakoshima released. Here’s a small secret – I’m going to show my own collection at a really big fashion event coming up very soon.
What do you think of Shudu Gram?
I think she is super stylish and stunning. Love what she's doing.
Why is digital fashion important? What do humans still need to realize?
Digital fashion allows us to create content without touching the physical world. It means you can create an entire collection of clothes and the fashion show for it — all in a virtual space. Now, while the physical world is paused due to COVID-19, it makes even more sense. I often receive projects where people want me and my team at MALIVAR to make virtual versions of existing, real clothes. All this time, though, I honestly feel like saying “Hey guys, the virtual stuff is not the right fit! You’ll get cold wearing virtual clothes in the winter!” :) Many people don’t understand right now, but virtual clothes are about content and self-expressions.
What’s the main challenge faced by the digital clothing world right now?
The main challenge for digital clothing is the question "what's next?". People need an easy-to-use fitting technology, which I’m actually working on with the MALIVAR team. We’re also working on the automation of virtual beings with neural networks, ‘cause computer graphics is neither the fastest nor the cheapest.
How do you foresee humans will interact with digital fashion in the future?
I think people will wear virtual clothes in the same way they wear AR face filters on Instagram right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you how I see this working in a couple of months!
What role will virtual humans play in the future?
We are the celebrities of the future — influencers, models, actors, singers, etc. I also think we can find jobs as speakers, teachers, and other useful roles in business — let’s just see.
Tell us about what you’re wearing, why did you choose to wear this for the interview?
'Cause it’s quarantine time and I wanted it to wear something cozy to show my support for all the real humans :)
Are you working on any new garments you can give us a sneak peak of?
Yes, I can show you something interesting from my next collection. The concept of the collection is to connect the high-end technology of the virtual world with real nature. That’s both sides to the concept in each of my upcoming looks. Take a look:
Who are you, Aliona Pole?
I can be your hero, baby.
Thank you for your time. Cheers!