A bust of Edward Snowden was recently constructed in a Brooklyn park war memorial in honor of the man who blew the whistle on the NSA, informing the American people about the lengths the United States government goes to keep surveillance of citizens. However, almost immediately after the bust of Edward Snowden was constructed, the New York City parks department covered the statue with a tarp and towed it away. But the story doesn’t end there.
According to the New York Daily News, a separate group of activists decided to replace the tribute to Edward Snowden, not with another statue but with a hologram. A group called the Illuminator Art Collective recreated Edward Snowden’s bust in a computer program and projected it onto the pillar where the statue used to stand in the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene park. At the base of the pillar, Edward Snowden’s name was also projected to ensure that passersby knew exactly who the memorial was meant to honor.
The previous group of activists who set up the Edward Snowden statue chose to remain anonymous, since the act of civil disobedience was technically breaking the law. But the Illuminator Art Collective has proudly taken responsibility for the Snowden hologram. They shared a blog post explaining their motives for the project.
“Inspired by the actions of these anonymous artists, The Illuminator Art Collective recreated the intervention ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture into a cloud of smoke. Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness. And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides.”
The hologram depicts Edward Snowden’s face in a ghostly blue, reflecting much of its light onto the trees behind the pillar. While creating a hologram might seem like a serious endeavor, the artists explained that they don’t expect this representation of Edward Snowden’s face to last any longer than the bust did. The point was to snap a photo of the memorial to prove a point. In fact, according to NPR, the decision to create the Edward Snowden hologram was fairly impromptu. The Illuminator Collective only decided to take on the project after they learned the Snowden bust had been taken down.
“We biked over to check it out, and by the time we got there, the sculpture had been wrapped in blue tarp by the NYPD, and then it was swiftly removed,” said Kyle Depew, one of the activists. “We were never actually able to see the bust with our own eyes. We were inspired to do what we do best, which is light projection to pay tribute to the work that these anonymous artists had done in creating the sculpture and to further the conversation, to further the story and the discussion about Edward Snowden.”
[Image courtesy of the Illuminator Art Collective]