During the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 a new development takes place in a decades-long Spanish issue. The War Memorial Valley of the Fallen, some thirty kilometers from Madrid, was built in the forties and fifties by prisoners of war and opponents of Franco, who is also buried there together with tens of thousands victims often anonymous. A visit to Franco’s grave is the icing on the cake for some such as a small group of tourists during a visit, for others it is an open wound. History still draws a division within Spanish families. What do you do with such a place?
Recently the Spanish government decided that the remains of Franco should in any case be moved. But where to? A cathedral in the capital finds Franco’s family, but that brings the fascist pilgrimage to the heart of the country. With the Deep Space project we will stay away from that discussion. In controversial mausoleums and monuments, this is often confined to tangible matters. But this distracts from the real question: how do we give new meaning to these places so that future generations know what has happened. How do they appropriate these spaces of memory.
We see opportunities in a hybrid space, a combination and merger of environment, objects and digital technology, apps and augmented reality. For the horror is in what you do not see, and can not touch in the Valley of the Fallen. Especially archaeologists and historians would like to freeze such monuments. With a digital layer over the monument we can make the full story visible, which would otherwise remain hidden. The plan is to build a digital archive so that it can become a national monument for everyone.
Frans Vogelaar is a professor of Hybrid Space at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany.
The horror is in what is not visible.