Deconstructing the future of gentrification, one projection at a time.
Corbin Ordel’s latest project A Future Sculpture of America (FSOA) is an experiment in artistic rendering one must see to understand. Situated on the 33rd floor of the Chase Manhattan building, Ordel uses the non-traditional location of the exhibition to explore themes of gentrification, community politics, art politics, inner city migration, and technology. Machine learning and projection mapping aid in transforming the carefully designed exhibition space into easily recognizable New York Cityneighborhoods, street corners, and landmarks. However, although recognizably New York, what is different about the cityscapes is that they have been stylistically and architecturally influenced by something non-human, something machine like. You can plainly see that areas of New York City yet to be transformed by hyper-development and spot rezoning are re-imagined under a set of ever changing parameters. Projected text informs us of what perimeters (White Wash, Whole Foods, Increased Police Presence, Art Gallery, New York State Housing Finance Agency 80/20, Airbnb, Luxury Hotel, to name a few) are being used by the A.I. algorithm to produce these futuristic, dystopian, and if not uncomfortably truly recognizable imagined city streets. If you have ever experienced Google’s Deep Dream, which, according to Google, “is a platform where you can transform photos using a powerful AI algorithms,” you know how disconcerting these images can be. To this end, it is not surprising that when our projected environment, in one case, a low income neighborhood in the Bronx is transformed into a series of big box stores and glass towers, and in another, a block of the Upper West Side melts into a luxury shopping mall, the imagery is palpably uncomfortable. The intent of show is clear in its message, that gentrification will eventually affect all of us living here in New York and that if we don’t begin thinking about our impact on the neighborhoods we live and play within, they may be gone before we ever stepped up to fight for their existence.