“Coffee-operated robot living her best life” is how Sylvia describes herself in her Instagram bio. Nearly every word of this is questionable, given that Sylvia isn’t actually alive at all: she’s a virtual influencer. In recent years, dozens of these digitally created models have appeared on Instagram. They come in different shapes and sizes; yet in two ways they are nearly all alike: they are young, and they don’t get any older—two qualities that make them very appealing to the brands they advertise.
Sylvia is different: she is getting older, and rapidly. She was born in May, was already in her forties in August and at the beginning of November she’ll be 75. She was created by artist and researcher Ziv Schneider as a social media experiment on themes such as ageism, mortality, and simulated authenticity. During IDFA, we’ll look back on Sylvia’s life, and also witness its end.