You can find the code here:
You can find the data here:
My original inspiration for this piece was the shooting of Alfred Olango last wednesday which you can read here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/30/san-diego-police-shooting-video-released-alfred-olango . Honestly I really just wanted to do something to show respect to the lives that are being destroyed publicly approximately every few days. This piece is a representation of the 198 lives that have been taken this year as of 9/28/2016.
One aspect of the publicity of the Black Lives Matter movement is that when stories are reported around the shootings, they are usually from either a statistics and facts and figures perspective or from a perspective that essentially serves to dehumanize the victim and make the victim’s death seem justified. No sufficient homage is paid to the lives these people once lived, and no one recognizes who they could’ve been beyond their current twitter hashtag.
So in this project I created a narrative of a life that could’ve been given to these black men and women, then repeated it line by line for every victim, and cut it off short where the police cut off their lives. The narrative is as follows:
Met Best Friend. Performed On Stage. Had First Kiss. First Day Of High School. Joined Basketball Camp. First Romantic Relationship. First Trophy. First Paycheck. Prom. Finished Freshman Year of College. Pledged To a Fraternity. Voted For The First Time.Celebrates 20th Birthday. First Internship. First Legal Drink. Graduation. Paid First Rent Check. Cooked First Real Meal. First Car. Got Off Of Parents Health Insurance Plan. Spent First Christmas Away From Home. Married the Love of Their Life. Bought First Home. Beginning of Hair Loss. Stopped Wearing Converse Sneakers. First Family Vacation. Watched The Birth Of First Child. Starts Volunteering In The Community. Had Second Child. Invests In The Stock Market. Buys Life Insurance. Awarded Huge Promotion. Got An Office With A View. Moved Into New Home. Started Their Own Company. Went to High School Reunion. Parents Passed Away .Tries To Get Fit Again. Joined A Church. Celebrated Golden Anniversary. Both Kids Move Out Of The House. Hosted Thanksgiving At Home. Creates A Will. Bought Another Pet. Babysat Grandchildren. Retired. First Grandchild. Openly Uses AARP Discounts.
Below are the results of processing sketches that are visual representations of this project. In these first two sketches I played around a lot with how much of the narrative should be visible by overlaying the stories. I also played around with removing the narrative entirely and just letting the numbers be the narrative. But that goes back to reducing these lives to numbers and their deaths. One reason i considered keeping these aesthetics is because they both have that ghostly effect that really screams death to me. And I wasn’t sure if i should place emphasis on the idea of death.
The next two sketches are my experimentations with color. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do some type of symbolism through color. I considered red because it symbolizes blood and also the silver-blue of gunmetal or alternatively the police. Ultimately it didn’t add anything in my opinion however when I print the piece I still want it to be printed in silver ink.
This is an up-close snapshot of the composition. The clutter and slight illegibility is intentional. The cutoff of the narrative is intentional. The spacing and gapping is also intentional. The size of how you’re viewing it on your screen (if you are viewing it at 100%) is essentially how small I wanted the text to be to force the viewer closer to the piece.
This is what the composition looks like as a whole. It’s approximately 24 inches by 72 inches. Due to the scale I had to use a unique method to plot (which I honestly haven’t gotten the hang of yet) I haven’t been able to make the machine that prints large-scale work. Also I can’t reduce the size otherwise you won’t be able to see the narrative. And unfortunately because 198 black people were killed by the cops this year, I have to print the entire 198 lines. Overall my biggest criticism for myself is that I couldn’t get the large plot machine working. This would have been so much more powerful with the handwritten visuals that would have been conveyed by silver pen on paper.