April 22, 2015
Anastatia Spicer

Places Beyond Discourse: Holograms & Spain’s Citizen Safety Law

A recent protest in Spain used the eerie feeling of holograms to their advantage in a new and interesting political move which caught worldwide attention. Using holograms usually seems bizarre and a little scary to me, like when Tupac was brought back to life or Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, delivered a speech through a 10 foot tall hologram projection of himself. Having the body seem so tangible when it’s really not freaks me out.

Despite this, the use of holograms in this situation worked well for the political cause because of the dramatic message it sent to people across the globe. Protests in Spain have been common since the fall of the country’s economy. As a way to contain the dissidence, a new law, ironically named the Citizen Safety law, was passed in March 2015.

photo of the holograms protesting via @nosomosdelito

photo of the holograms protesting via @nosomosdelito

No Somos Delitos (We Are Not A Crime) has been organizing against the Citizen Safety Law.  The law makes not registering protests, assembling in protest, videotaping and taking photographs of or insulting the police illegal, resulting in arrest or extreme fines up to €600,000. A smaller group inside of No Somos Delitos, called Holograms for Freedom organized the hologram protest. The Citizen Safety Law was passed in March and will go into effect in July if the European Union does not intervene. It is being called the “gag law” because of the constraints it is putting on citizens. The law does not make holographic protest illegal, which left this as the last option for those seeking resistance.

Protesters left videos or audio on the organizations website over the two week before the protest. The result was 18,000 visual people who were then converted into holograms and protested outside of the Spanish parliament building in Madrid, allowing people from all over the world to take part in the protest.

Carlos Escaño, the spokesperson for No Somos Delito, said that “It’s about art, about going to a place beyond discourse. It’s about touching emotion,”. Although this new form of protesting is interesting and exciting on one hand, Escaño has said that he hopes it will be the first and last, because of the terrifying constraints which resulted in the need for this type of protest.

I think the use of art for political purposes is extremely powerful and can more clearly get a message across because it shows the creative and innovative side of resistance. Protests against this law have been happening for months now, but this new tactic caught the attention of mass media around the world and gave activists the needed attention. The innovative use of art helped push the message of the activists forward into the spotlight. Some have claimed it shows defeat and that other options of protest should be further explored. I don’t think exploring this new form of protest shows defeat at all. Those organizing it were balancing how to get the most attention while working with the real implication if this law is passed in July. They were able to (kind of) bring together people from all over the world.