Photographs from Los Despoblados

According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, by 2007 there were over 2.800 villages listed as abandoned. More than half of them are for sale and/or in the process of becoming spas or sport centers. However, these crumbling towns are, in a very real sense, visual monuments to a moment in time the rest of the world has long forgotten. As such, they are part of an endangered portion of Spain’s history. The point of Ghost Town Initiative/ Los Despoblados is not to urge for the rehabilitation of these villages. Rather, it is to keep their memories alive through Internet’s unique twofold capacity to navigate through time as well as space, and to play with the boundaries between archival practice and creative production. The idea is to re-contextualize Google Maps as a tool for virtually visiting a physical location, while playing simultaneously with our perspective on the past and present, as well as our interaction between offline and online embodiment.
Since these towns are abandoned, Google Maps does not offer a Street View of them, leaving them virtually inaccessible to the online world. Ghost Town Initiative or Los Despoblados consists of providing an online space where Internet visitors are able to virtually stroll through these villages amongst recreated ghost inhabitants.

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