Newsletter October 2019

How to re-signify traumatic 20th century heritage in the Digital Age?
How to create a polyphonic monument?
How can Augmented Reality (AR) enrich the perception of contested heritage?

Valle de los Caídos

On Thursday 24 October 2019 Franco’s remains were exhumed and moved out from Valle de los Caídos, the controversial monument close to Madrid. Valle de los Caídos, built between 1940 and 1958 partly by prisoners of war, was ordered by Franco to celebrate the victims of the Spanish Civil War. It has been hosting over 33,000 thousands of remains gathered from mass graves from across the country without families’ permission and, since his death in 1975, the remains of the dictator, too.

Even without the remains of the dictator, the symbolic value of Valle de los Caídos retains its controversial force. What transformations are needed at Valle de los Caídos (“Valley of the Fallen”) so as not to create a cenotaph – an empty burial monument?

Hybrid Space Lab is curating the second international, interdisciplinary workshop in Spain in 2020, looking at digital tools, such as an Augmented Reality (AR) app, to make the controversial monument contextually readable and understandable and to support its transformation without physically touching it.

Now we see what Franco wanted us to see. With Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality we could show everything he wanted to hide. New technologies can help to reveal and to voice many things and histories that have been silenced, neglected or forgotten – from the field barracks where the prisoners of war who built the monument lived, to the victims of the Franco regime. In addition, they can also function as tools to overcome the trauma. Digital tools can be used to debate, to discuss, as a therapy, especially among young people”;

See the article by journalist Sílvia Marimon published in the Catalan daily newspaper ARA on October 23 2019.

The large-scale banner with Hybrid Space Lab’s elaborate mapping and analysis of Valle de los Caídos has been hanging on the Madrid Goethe Institute’s facade from June 5 2019 and lowered on Franco’s exhumation day (24 October 2019) – the start of a hopefully more inclusive collective processing of contentious history.

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