As thousands took to the streets last fall for the Occupy Wall Street protests, a few methods of communication became synonymous with the movement. The human microphone was first, and then came The Illuminator, a theatrical light projection that served as the 99 percent's roving Batmobile, shining messages of hope and resistance.
The Illuminator made it's debut on November 17 as tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed the Brooklyn Bridge, turning Manhattan's skyline into a real-life Gotham City.
Mark Read, who thought of the idea, and his collaborators, partnered with Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's. Cohen was sympathetic to the Occupy movement and put funds into The Illuminator to make it mobile. In an unassuming white cargo van the team produces "luminous interventions" in public spaces projecting messages like, "The workers united will never be defeated," "Free Pussy Riot," and "All our Solutions Are Connected."
But now, after unforeseen organizational differences with Cohen, the company has been asked to hand over the keys to the van on October 1.
The founders say The Illuminator is more than just a physical presence. The people behind it—the artists, activists, librarians, and VJ's who make up The Illuminator Affinity Group—literally shine a light on the urgent issues they believe in.
Like any effective Batmobile, The Illuminator also takes on many forms. By day it transforms into a fully stocked library, acting as a hub of information, a centerpiece during protests, and a place to exchange ideas.
To keep their vision alive, a Kickstarter campaign, which ends in just three days, aims to raise $22,000. The hope is that crowdfunding will ensure their process stays democratic, and earn enough for "The Illuminator 2.0," a fleet of bike-powered units, projectors, and the other equipment needed to take the message public. Read explains, "What we do depends on how much money we raise. At the level we are shooting for, bikes are the best option, but if we go ballistic (and the Kickstarter is going well) we could get another van."
Let's help them go ballistic. Fund the project here.
Photos courtesy of The Illuminator Affinity Group