Nari Ward’s We The People

Week 2 Roundup


I met with a member of the Brooklyn Anti Gentrification Network, which is described as “a mass-based coalition of tenants, homeowners, block associations, anti-police brutality groups, legal and grassroots organizations working to end the rampant gentrification and displacement of low to middle income residents of Brooklyn, New York.” My contact showed my around her neighborhood of Prospect Lefferts Gardens as we walked towards the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The point of our trip was to examine an upcoming proposition made by real estate developers to erect new condos between the Vanderbilt and Washington Ave triangle. To accomplish this, the developers will need to apply for Spot Rezoning which is applying new zoning to a specific piece of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with current zoning restrictions. I came armed with my camera as I was asked to make some renderings of the proposition. These were designed to give and idea of how the neighborhood might change. I also found this useful in imagine how my proposed environment could look and feel.

With property taxes already boiling over across most, if not all of Brooklyn, the proposition of an influx of 20,000 people into my contacts neighborhood is a frightening proposition.

Later in the week I attended a rally/ press conference in front of the Municipal Court Houses to support ICE FREE NYC.  Their current efforts are to “educate the public and public officials about the current environment and share stories about how New Yorkers are affected by our city’s collaboration with ICE which is shattering lives, families and communities through racial profiling, detention and deportation.” This rally gave me further understanding into how neighborhood hyper development endangers the lives of all immigrants, legal or illegal, and their families. I plan to incorporate information and statistic collected by ICE FREE NYC into the algorithms and software design of the changing environment

Next, I met with Ben Moskowitz,  who  leads development for R&D and innovation at the International Rescue Committee as well as being a ITP adjunct professor. I sought him out as he has a keen eye for interesting and innovating ways of expressing ideas regarding societal issues. We brainstormed together about the immersive environment that I am going to create and created some key factors that we believe should be incorporated:

  • The amount of people should directly influence the environment itself. For example, the more people who enter the room, the more expensive it will become to enter the environment. On the flipside, something like the artificial “Police Presence” would increase.
  • Price VS. Experience Vs. Incentive must be at the heart of the exhibition. Will less people come when the entrance becomes $0.50 cents as opposed to $0.05 cents? With increased prices, will the show become less desirable?
  • There must be an incentive to come to the show, but with that incentive there must be real consequence in relation to your presence.
  • Economics must play a role in how the environment changes, as well the images that are projected.


Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin:

A great rundown of urban change and the societal factors that caused them from 19th century to present day New York City.

T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone – Hakim Bey

A seminal piece of artist/anarchy text

Sun Splashed – Nari Ward

Nari Ward’s incredible installation pieces speak with a mix of critique, darkness, optimism, and joy. This inspires me as he believes the true way to reach people is through appealing to the most import force within our humanity, the seeking of happiness.

I intend to reach out to him.



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 WashWhole 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.