Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny
Posted by Aug 14, 2019
What if you could score a mural the way that you can score a movie? A unique project from painter Joshua Mays and DJ King Britt answers this question. In West Philadelphia, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny comes to life through an augmented reality app (MuralArtsAR), weaving together interviews with community elders, neighborhood sounds, and beats created by local students from The Haverford School and Mastery Charter’s Shoemaker Campus. The final mural evokes perspective and curiosity, invitations to meaning, and possibility through cosmic awareness and cultural connection. But how did we get here?
The project began two years ago when students were asked to think about the future of their West Philadelphia neighborhood, and learned how to record interviews, mix sounds, and dream up an Afrofuturism-inspired landscape. Mays and Britt spent hours in workshops with students, experimenting together across artistic mediums. In the fall of 2017, we heard the sounds of Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny for the first time, in the form of a light and sound installation in Malcolm X Park, with performances from students and local poets and musicians. The mood was joyous.
The final mural evokes perspective and curiosity, invitations to meaning, and possibility through cosmic awareness and cultural connection. But how did we get here?
In the second phase of the project, Mays refined the visual design based on student ideas, Britt finalized the sounds of the mural, and the two began to work together with Blue Design to bring the mural to life through augmented reality. It was a new experience for all of us, and not without hiccups along the way, learning how to use image recognition software to activate the right part of the score at the right time.
The artwork is intensely rooted in the neighborhood, and best experienced in person, but ultimately we wanted this public art to be accessible to folks farther afield—the final app includes a feature that will “create” the mural experience right in front of you, wherever you are. So log in, plug in your headphones, and explore the dreams of West Philadelphia.
Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is underwritten by the 25th Century Foundation in honor of the collaborative efforts for the students from The Haverford School and Mastery Charter’s Shoemaker Campus.
Mastery Charter’s Shoemaker Campus
Parkside Community Association
The Haverford School
This post is part of The “Public” In Public Art: Community Engagement Stories From The 2019 PAN Year In Review blog salon.