There is no sweaty crowd, no yelling, no police, and certainly no pepper spray. In Tiago Barros' and Ana Cravinho's Digital Revolution there's only 3-D holograms occupying a digital plaza and a community of passionate bloggers.
This isn't sci-fi. In fact, it may be a glimpse into the future of global protest movements.
The pair recently submitted the design proposal for the International Ideas Competition Strategies for Public Occupation: A Call for Ideas.
Barros' previous design concept, Passing Cloud was an Internet sensation. Entered in a competition for a high-speed rail network called Life at the Speed of Rail, Passing Cloud re-imagined the concept of travel by placing passengers on an inflatable Zeppelin-like cloud.
In essence, the cloud itself became the destination and the landscape below the entertainment. The design didn't win the competition but it did provoke a heated conversation online about the future of air travel.
His follow-up, Digital Revolution tackles another age-old problem with a 21st century twist.
The project searches for a new vision for the future of protests around the world while recognizing that these demonstrations are a highly important part of disseminating opinions.
Occupy Movements are, of course, in the media agenda thanks too many merits like questioning common people about their role in society, Barros told the International Business Times. For all these reasons, we find the challenge launched by this prestigious architecture institution very pertinent and actual, so we decided to take an active role doing what we do best, as architects: thinking space and its interaction with people.
Digital Revolution removes the physical destination from the protest equation, proposing instead a paradigm shift made possible by a virtual interface available to all who care to join.
In essence, a 3-D hologram of each participant would be projected in a specific virtual plaza using data collected and transmitted by the interface. The plaza would amalgamate familiar urban spaces with an altogether virtual world - a world that would also transmit sound and time slots for podium speeches, mirroring a typical rally.
While it may seem like science fiction, Barros says the technology is out there:
As the great Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa said, 'God wills / Man dreams / the work is born.' In this particular case, our challenge was to find something that would fit the idea of ??'materializing' the protesters within the rally, even without being there physically, Barros said.
He envisions a time in the near future when ordinary people will have 3-D scanners in their personal computers.
Barros is optimistic: As in the 'Passing Cloud' project, we believe that technology can follow up these currently utopian ideas, as has always happened at other moments in the history of mankind.
Protesters could then monitor live statistics, news and achievements from the safety of their home while actively writing manifestos, blogging, and emailing ideas - thus the cloned individual would have a presence.
In the wake of a pepper spray epidemic and daily media coverage of protest violence, Digital Revolution proposes a safer way of articulating discontent.
We have no doubt about it, Barros said. It's safer and more inclusive in the sense that it avoids large concentrations and at the same time can bring other people who otherwise would have no means to be present to express their ideas.
Barros and Cravinho also toss around the buzzwords eco-friendly and green when touting their new concept.
According to the designers, Digital Revolution avoids most of the waste that results from demonstrations, prevents the use of natural resources to create banners, flyers, and newsletters, and substantially reduces the carbon footprint caused by people's displacement to the sites of demonstration.
Composed of only 3 elements (name, text and a single image), Digital Revolution will be in exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City between December 17 and December 22, 2011.
For more information, visit www.tiagobarros.eu/