A protest group pulled off an undeniably futuristic stunt this weekend in Spain: they sent thousands of holograms parading past the lower house of the country's parliament.
The augmented reality protest was just the latest in activist groups' campaign against a series of "citizen security" bills, which received final passage in March. The new laws criminalize some forms of protest, such as gathering in front of Parliament. And among highly restrictive digital provisions, the law makes taking or distributing "unauthorized" photographs of police a crime punishable with a 30,000 euro fine. All in, the laws would create 45 new infractions, mostly centered on cracking down on dissent.
The new measures will go into effect July 1, if they survive national and European legal challenges.
No Somos Delito, which translates as We Are Not Crime, has been protesting what they call the country's "gag law," and in that context, the hologram protest is more than the stunt it might first appear. Under conditions in which people cannot put their bodies into the streets, the ghostly virtual projections serve both as protest and as a reminder of the protests that cannot occur.
The group even released a microsite—hologramasporlalibertad.org (Holograms for Freedom)—which lays out the opposition's case against the law, including a lengthy document laying out what the new laws would do.
It features an introductory video of a woman turning into a hologram. "Ultimately, if you are a person, you won't be allowed to express yourself freely," she says, referring to the new Spanish law. "You will only be able to do it if you are a hologram."
A spokesman for the group drove home the point to the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo. "Our protest with holograms is an irony," he said. "With the restrictions we're suffering on our freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, the last option that will be left to us will be to protest through our holograms."
I have not been able to find any evidence of previous hologram protests, unless you consider the Tupac hologram as an attempt to destroy all that is holy.