Eric Molinsky is a reporter for Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. He co-produced several hours of the American Icons series, including The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Buffalo Bill's Wild West, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Wizard ...
Forget the Bat Signal: This Is a Protest
Monday, March 24, 2014
The Illuminator is a group of activists in New York City who project words and images on the side of buildings like “End Coal” or “Save the Wolves.” They have also projected a giant, moving eyeball on the side of a telecommunications building to protest spying by the NSA.
The group was born on November 17th, 2011, the day Occupy Wall Street activists were kicked out of Zuccotti Park and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Mark Read wanted to show his support for the activists, so he shined a "Bat Signal" on the Verizon building by the East River. But he didn't use the Batman, instead it was the logo for Occupy: 99%.
Several current members of The Illuminator say that moment convinced them to join up with Read. He also inspired a financial donor, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. He paid for a periscope-projector in a souped-up van that makes it easier to display images on buildings throughout the city. To keep funding going, The Illuminator now stages protests for hire – so long as they believe in the cause.
And they’re sharing their technology with other activists around the country who are starting their own projection protest groups.