Nine Nights (2016) is a site-specific augmented reality experience made possible by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute and AR app Blippar. Situated at the 126th St. Bus Depot in Harlem, NYC, Night Nights follows the framework of the Caribbean grieving tradition called Nine Nights, where people gather at the home of the deceased for nine nights before they are buried. Though not as large or as well known as the burial site in Lower Manhattan, this burial ground was where peoples of African descent from all over Manhattan were buried in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Instead of being stretched across nine nights, participants are asked nine questions about their methods of coping with grief as they walk around the building scanning the available prompts using the Blippar app. After completing all questions, participants are then emailed the responses of another participant, who will remain anonymous. Black death has become a spectacle in the digital and as a result, grief has moved from a physical, communal action to one that is remote and performative but no less valid in most cases. The mutual exchange of information brings public mourning into a more private, intimate space.
More about the history of this site and the systemic erasure of the people buried there can be found here.
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