On April 10, 2015 at around 9:30 p.m., the streets outside Madrid's Parliament building were haunted by a march of ghostly apparitions. These figures were not poltergeists but hologram-like projections, similar to those generated by the Illuminator (the protest tool often called "the Bat Signal of Occupy Wall Street") or the light sculpture of Edward Snowden recently placed by guerrilla artists in a New York City park.
Spain is currently in the midst of massive country-wide protests in opposition to what opponents are calling ley mordaza or the “gag law,” which prevents unauthorized public demonstrations by threatening massive fines for participants (up to €600,000 for demonstrating near certain government facilities, and €30,000 for taking photos or videos of police). Officially called the “Citizens Security Law”—an appropriately banal, 1984-esque moniker—the bill was passed by the conservative People’s Party in both the lower and upper houses of the Spanish Parliament.
Spain’s already-seasoned activist organizations have been protesting en masse since before the law was approved by the upper house in March. Such demonstrations may be short-lived if the bill passes into law on July 1st as planned. As The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer recounts in his recent article on the subject, this understanding has prompted some activists to employ unusual measures to make their point in the public forum, as with the projections of April 10.
Conceived by Madrid-based publicist Javier Urbaneja, implemented by production company Garlic, and planned by Spanish activist organization No Somos Delito (We Are Not a Crime), the "holograms" are in fact projections on a sheer scrim. They can be filmed several days before the event in addition to being crowdsourced through their website Hologramas Por La Libertad (Holograms for Liberty), which allows users to upload text, videos, and audio to be projected at the protest. The idea, of course, is that such ephemeral actions will become the only way for Spain's citizens to air grievances in public if the proposal becomes law—a flashy yet grim vision of the years to come. The organizers are keeping the date and location of their next action secret to avoid harassment by police or armed forces, but with the July 1 deadline fast approaching and their site still up and running it seems likely that there will be more ghostly protesters marching the streets of Spain soon.
Below is a short video created by No Somos Delito, documenting what they call “the first Hologram Protest in history.”