Online protests are important, but sometimes you need to get your action offline. Be it to get more media attention, or to break the feeling of isolation that develops when you are only allowed to be “virtual”.
But sometimes it can be too risky to actually hit the streets. Or it can be difficult to get enough participants to make your event impressive.
In this case, using images of people, rather than actual people, can be a good compromise between safety and impact.
Projecting images of people onto public buildings has often been used as a way to symbolically get these institutions to listen to the voices of these people.
The most impressive example is definitely the Spanish initiative in September 2015 that projected a hologram video of people demonstrating. This action was done to protest against the Spanish law that threatened to limit the rights of the public to rally, so this was an excellent illustration of how the medium is also the means!
The organisers report in this short video.
The format was later on taken up by Amnesty in Korea, where scores of “ghost protester” holograms marched in central Seoul to protest South Korean government’s restriction on freedom of assembly and expression.
But this action requires a strong technological setup.
For activists with less resources, other forms of digital projection are possible.
In the Philippines, climate activists from 350.org conducted a virtual march in September 2018 to project the photos of more than 500 frontline communities, activists, students, artists, churchgoers, and other advocates for climate action in Quezon City.
The virtual march is a hologram protest that bridges online and offline activism by collecting photos through online submissions, and loading it into a Pixelstick a digital rod that projects light images for long exposure photography. Aside from online submissions, the photos came from the more than 30 communities and organizations engaged by 350.org.
In San Francisco, environment activists have also used animated projections to create a great emotional effect, bringing buildings to life. A great way to attract attention. In total safety.