Strangeness is afoot. Most people don’t notice the hundreds of cryptic tiled messages about resurrecting the dead that have been appearing in city streets over the past three decades. But Justin Duerr does. For years, finding an answer to this long-standing urban mystery has been his obsession. He has been collecting clues that the tiler has embedded in the streets of major cities across the U.S. and South America. But as Justin starts piecing together key events of the past he finds a story that is more surreal than he imagined, and one that hits disturbingly close to home.
One of the questions we get most often is “did you ever put the tiles on a map?” The thinking behind the question begs some Hollywood-style grand conspiracy. The scene would play out like this. In some dimly lit room, the intrepid Resurrect Dead team pins tile locations to a giant wall map. As we finish, the camera pans back to reveal a giant arrow pointing to buried Illuminati gold.
The tile map is nowhere near that earth shattering. More than anything, the map of 600+ tiles reveals (with a startling degree of detail) the travel patterns of a Philadelphian with the habit of dropping breadcrumbs all over the eastern half of the United States.
We see regular trips down the shore. We see a preference for Route 1. If we look close enough, we can even see a habit for Dunkin Donuts. Trips to midwestern cities show tiles starting near highway, trailing through downtown and a jump back onto the next on-ramp out of town. It’s no coded message to some wider revelation, but it’s still an interesting look at a life through hundreds of points of data.
HEADER ILLUSTRATION BY MATT ROTA