Activism

'Go away': COP26 projectionist gets really fed-up with anti-fracking activists' stunt

Anti-fracking activists and COP26 officials became embroiled in a war of words in Glasgow - on the side of one of the main event spaces.

A COP26 projectionist tried to block protesters' messaging on the side of the SEC Armadillo by projecting a rainbow onto the building, before realising it only made it stand out more. The activists then projected an image asking for it to be put back. Image: Graeme Eddolls

Any Glaswegian trying to enjoy a peaceful walk along the banks of the Clyde last night would have instead witnessed a fierce propaganda battle, as climate protesters locked horns with the official projectionists of a COP26 venue.

Protesters splashing the SEC Armadillo with an anti-fracking message could not have predicted how the projectionists for the optically-besieged building would have reacted – by projecting their own message telling them to “go away”.

The Armadillo, which is playing host to negotiations during the conference, is usually decked in projections of the spinning-globe COP logo.

COP protest, SEC Armadillo
Image: Graeme Eddolls

But protesters wanted to make a point in reaction to EU plans for new fossil fuel projects, aided by a projector twice as powerful as those used in cinemas.

A group of 10 activists from groups including Shale Must Fall, Gastivists, and Climate Camp Scotland, projected messages including: “Clean gas is a dirty lie”, “cut methane now”, and “ban fracking now”.

When the crew employed to paint the amphitheatre with the official projections noticed what was happening, they tried to counter and drown out the messages.

A rainbow projection was met with glee by the activists, because it offered a more colourful backdrop for their messages.

COP protest, SEC Armadillo
Image: Graeme Eddolls

Further attempts to obscure the messages included a grey dot pattern. Again it failed.

The official fightback culminated in “go away” being pasted across the venue in bold red text.

The COP protesters then responded by asking them to “put the rainbow back”.

“All that ended up happening was it just drew even more attention to us,” Graeme Eddolls, a PhD student and activist who helped put the projector in place, told The Big Issue.

“Even though it was 11-12 at night, there were still members of the public along the riverside, and you see them pointing and laughing at the fact the SEC Armadillo is being lit up.”

The protesters then realised they could program their own improvised messages – and asked the projectionists to “put the rainbow back”.

“What’s going on in this venue is extremely important for people around the world,” Noelie Audi-Dor, a member of Gastivists, told The Big Issue.

“Of course they’re trying to shut down our messages. Just the amount of police presence in Glasgow is a way of showing that they’re trying to limit what civil society is able to communicate”.

Eventually, a truce was called, with the official projectionists conceding and coming over to talk to the group.

“They were having a laugh, chatting and congratulating us,” said Eddolls.

Chiara Arena, of the Scottish Climate Camp, told The Big Issue: “It was quite entertaining. I never thought I would have a fight going on on the Armadillo”.

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