Virtual Neruda walking streets of Chile’s capital 40 years after death

By Eva Vergara, AP

SANTIAGO, Chile — Forty years after his death, Pablo Neruda once again was writing and reciting love poems and he walked through Santiago’s streets to the admiring gazes of Chileans — virtually, that is.

The Nobel Prize-winning poet was briefly visible Friday writing verses in the window of his former home in Santiago, which is now a museum. Then his projected figure set off, traveling across the facades of buildings and homes as he appeared to slowly stroll the capital’s streets like he used to do when he was alive.

The urban project was part of an initiative by the Pablo Neruda Foundation on the 110th anniversary of his birth, July 12, 1904.

A moving projector sent the black-and-white image of Chile’s great poet against the front of buildings, giving the impression of him walking along the main avenues of Santiago, said Andrea Gana, creative director of Delight Lab, the company behind the virtual Neruda.

“It is a moving projection coming from a vehicle. As one projects the image on the facades of architecture … it appears as if he is one more person walking,” Gana said.

A speaker broadcast Neruda’s verses so it seemed as if he was reading his poems as he walked.

The virtual poet was to stroll down streets near the museum and on Santiago’s main Alameda avenue for four hours. The images of Neruda walking were taken from old films in the foundation’s archives.

Neruda won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 after a prolific career, and he’s still best known worldwide for his love poems.

He also was a leftist politician and diplomat, and a close friend of socialist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender to troops during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Neruda, who was 69 at the time and suffered from prostate cancer, was traumatized by the coup and the persecution and killing of his friends.

He decided to go into exile. But just before he planned to leave, he was taken by ambulance to a clinic, where he died 12 days after the coup.