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The Fading Ad Campaign began as a photographic project documenting vintage mural ads on building brickfaces in New York City spanning nearly a century. It has become a metaphor for survival for me since, like myself, many of these ads have long outlived their expected life span. Although this project doesn’t deal directly with HIV/AIDS, it is no accident I’ve chosen to document such a transitory and evanescent subject. Of the hundreds of ads I’ve photographed, many have already been covered up, vandalized, or destroyed. But still many silently cling to the walls of buildings, barely noticed by the rushing passersby.

This blog was originally designed to be a cross-curricular instructional tool, emphasizing science & technology while examining media literacies and cultural movements. Fading Ad Blog has since grown to become a collaboration with urban archaeologist around the country and from here in Brooklyn as well. Check out the Assignments Page!

Omega Oil was the first fading ad that I photographed. I don’t remember ever noticing them before this. A friend from my photography class called me up and asked if I would walk with him through Harlem to photograph friezes & other architectural details since I had lived there before and he wasn’t comfortable walking with his camera alone. When I noticed the sign, I asked Arthur if he had seen other signs like this before. Terms like ghost signs were not in my lexicon. I was a novice. What was unimaginable at the time was the kaleidoscopic journey on which these signs would take me: From scouring the five boros with Vincenzo in 1997, to a 1999 cross country road trip that would have me sleeping on the floors and couches of the likes of Wm Stage (Ghost Signs) and Tod Swormstedt (American Sign Museum). A minor show at the N-Y Historical Society that got major press on the front pages of the NY Times. The valuable & instructive collaborations with other urban archaeologists like Kevin Walsh & Walter Grutchfield. And wonderful attention from journalists around the globe. The journey continues with the writing and publishing of the book that will feature 75 images from the inception of the project that was shot on chrome. I call it the Fading Ad Campaign’s Chrome Age. Thank you all for your support in this project.

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Frank H. Jump is a Flatbush, Brooklyn artist/teacher/resident.