The world’s first virtual protest occurred in Madrid on April 11th, 2015.  Over 18,000 people marched holographically in protest of a new law called the Citizen’s Safety Law which prevents people from physically protesting outside government buildings.  The law, set to come into effect July 1st, has been heavily criticized in Spain and endangers civil liberties.  The holographic protest follows many, in the flesh, protests against the law, also known as the “Gag Law”.  Here is the call to the world to join the world’s first Holographic protest on the HOLOGRAMASPORLALIBERTAD site.

Holo - 3

The protest was made possible by more than 100 organizations which joined together to create a movement called “We are Not a Crime”, or “No Somos Delito.”  This statement best describes their plight:

 “…#HologramasLibres (FreeHolograms)-  describes a surreal future in which we have to shed our flesh and become three-dimensional light forms in order to protest… The hologram protest denounces how, as people, we cannot express messages contrary to those disseminated by our leaders; how we cannot think freely, as free thinking is reliant on the possibility of meeting freely to speak freely, expressing ourselves in the squares, the streets, the markets. We cannot be ourselves. The current climate of repression is silencing our society, filling us with fear. What’s more, we believe that this is not a national matter, but a global one, and that the strategy of silencing the population is aimed at eliminating all protest against new economic policies to be introduced in the future…”  Sound familiar?

We are not a Crime, called on people all over the world to volunteer to become a hologram in the protest. The video call above served as the intro to their campaign and in the weeks running up to the protest, supporters were given 3 options on how to participate:

  1. WRITE A MESSAGE – YOUR WORDS WITHOUT FEAR OF REPRISAL.  Button option allows you to write your words to be used on signs in the holographic protest.
  2. BECOME A HOLOGRAM – JOIN A UNIQUE PROTEST. Button allows you to record the image of your head using your webcam to submit to them so that they could paste it into the protest.  All of the heads in the protest are of real people.
  3. LEAVE YOUR SHOUT – DON’T LET ANYONE ELSE SILENCE YOUR VOICE.  Button allowed to record audio of your words of protest to be used in the holographic protest.

Here’s some footage of what the Holographic protest looked like when they put it all together:

The approach is a big step both for technology and activism.  Technically, the projection was not a formal hologram, but was actually closer to a theatrical illusion called Pepper’s Ghost, but it was close enough.  No Somos Delito, is currently working to create multiple technological mediums to use in their future protests so its activism can’t be silenced.   The real test will be whether their campaign helps to defeat the Security Laws and set an example for the world.

When I first encountered the news of this protest, I was stunned by how brilliant and surreal the idea was and I am still in awe of the idea.  My mind wanders back to Blade Runner and 1984 and I truly marvel at what the future of holographic technology may hold.

People from 50 countries around the world helped them.  Would you help them if they did it again?


  1. Wow, I’ve never hear of this type of protest before. I think that it could be a game changer. Not only is it safe for the protestors themselves, but also to law enforcement officials and civilians. This would be a great alternative to get your message across in a strong, yet peaceful way. I love it!
    – Amanda

  2. Hello Amanda – While you make a great point, that it would make protest much safer for both protesters and law enforcement, the loss of the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly for 3D in the flesh people would be disastrous in the free world. “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.” Although, I, personally, love it as a very post modern art installation. I would not want to give up my personal right to freedom of speech and assembly to a draconian government. I think that is what our armed forces are usually fighting and dying for.

  3. Wow! This is incredible! The possibilities and positive implications of this type of approach of safety and security of protesters is amazing. Do you have any idea what the financial cost of hosting such an event would be?

  4. Hello Tara – I am not aware of the costs of hosting such an event. It is the type of set up that Vegas Magicians use and Cirque du Soleil. It is made more challenging by the exterior conditions, as the cloth that is usually projected on (called scrim, which is kind of like door scrieen) is sensitive to rain and wind. No doubt there was a great deal of work for a tech team up front editing in all of the people’s faces and voices into the projection. The projection would likely require a second type of team. I suspect we will see more artistic uses of this technology in the near future and bet the techniques involved will evolve and become more accessible quickly.

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