On May 1st, a young man known in our Prospect Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood as a nice kid was gunned down on the block where we grew up, outside of a barbershop he frequented on Washington Avenue and St Johns Place. He was shot in the head and torso at 763 Washington Ave., near St. John's Place, about 9:51 p.m. He was taken to Methodist Hospital and pronounced dead. I was in the barbershop on that night of the shooting. The barber gave me a shave, while the young man swept and took the days trash out. Moments later, three guns shots rang out from behind the door. Frozen in my seat, I sat, and turned slowly recognizing the young man gunned down, lying across the threshold of the door he just crossed over. I managed to get up, to kneel at his head, before his last moments. I said “...take it easy brother… don't struggle… they will be here soon… just don't struggle." I didn’t know this young man personally, and in his fatal moment I didn't realize I was inferring to his angels.
I grew-up in Prospect Heights, before this neighborhood was dubbed its present name. I have been equal to challenges and learned how to live here, as well as prospered, from obstacles I have overcome. I needed to engage members of my community to think about what they want in this life, what they were up to, and what was important to each of them, and to all of us. Using the "build your own" wall guide provided by Candy Chang and the Civic Center, I was inspired to remix, and construct my own stencil titled "Before I Die I Will...".
To link the physical wall to this digital space, I embedded a QR-Code [quick response code], which leads to discovering how our mobile devices can serve to build digital global participation by the construction of personal "Before I Die…" responses. Linking the creative activity was a two-fold process, one begins by building the physical wall, collecting and organizing photos, which is then followed by the process of a digital interface, where code creation, a photo-bucket, and links generate the information flow and give meanings that rise from the content. I used the QR-code at the physical installation as well to preserve the graffiti that I moved -- with permission, for posterity onto *this website.
Street art is also impermanent by design. Often cleaned off by the local authorities, building owners, or other artist. I photographed the artist work before, during, and after its removal. I then designed and stenciled a trackable QR-code in a Mandala symbol in the exact location that will access this gallery of images that includes the original art work. My background in photographic practice was an important reference in the realization that the meaning of these works would be marked by the modes of their access and presentation. For the wall to exist in the virtual realm, mobile devices and pedestrian interaction are the modes of real-time retrieval and also the means of ongoing experience. In this way a mobile device with a QR-Code reader can be used to continue to scan, share images of the original street art, and respond to this project -- and because the code will remain active for a year, pedestrians may also use it to travel back in time.
Photography by Noël Gaskin | Derrel Meade | Starling Rush | Minh Nguyen
This wall was born in August, 2013. It died in September, 2014.
Made with love by Noël Gaskin