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Brooklyn Navy Yard Mural Shows GPS-Tracked Movements of Workers

By Janet Upadhye | August 7, 2014 11:11am
  Colorful lines on the mural represent the routes of people who work behind the Navy Yard walls.
Colorful lines on the mural represent the routes of people who work behind the Navy Yard walls.
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Brooklyn Navy Yard

NAVY YARD — An abstract mural depicting the GPS-tracked movements of Brooklyn Navy Yard workers is set to be unveiled Thursday.

Artist Paul Campbell asked 10 Navy Yard employees to track their steps all over the city for one day using smartphone apps, and then recorded their movements on a 66-foot-long wall on Flushing Avenue at Vanderbilt Avenue.

The mural shows the workers' routes using different colored lines that wriggle across the length of the wall, tangling with each other. 

"My work often involves finding unusual ways to make paintings that remove the hand of the artist, and this is a technological way to make this happen," said Campbell, who works in a studio at the Navy Yard.

"This was a way for me to create something beautiful and fun using a tracking system."

The tracks of the employees  who work for companies including Kings County Distillery, which makes bourbon, chocolate whiskey and moonshine, and the urban farming business Brooklyn Grange — show them leaving their homes and then weaving through the Navy Yard complex.

Visitors can use their phones to scan a QR code included in the mural to find profiles of each of the workers, which describe the employee's role on the property.

"Their paths in and around the Yard are just a small reflection of the bustling activity of the nearly 7,000 people that come to work at the Yard every single day," a spokeswoman for the Yard said.

The mural took a team of five people four days to make. It will be taken down after a year, when the Yard will choose another mural with the same theme to go up in its place. 

Campbell's mural will be unveiled on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 1:30 p.m. The Yard's BLDG 92 website containing more information about the project and project participants will go live shortly after the unveiling, which is when the QR codes will also begin to work.