about the project.
Vacated uses Google Streetview to highlight the vacant lots where new buildings now stand in gentrifying neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. The project finds buildings constructed in the past four years (2012-2016) using New York City building footprint data, and leverages Google Streetview’s cache to visualize the absent lots just before new housing projects were constructed. The ages of other buildings on these same blocks are also shown in each scene. Take a look at the artist’s website for a more complete view of the project.
In some photographs (such as 263 Eckford Street), we can see the texture and character of the neighborhood changing before our eyes. There is one other architectural modernist building on the block but most other buildings have been around since the turn of the twentieth century (the 1890s to 1930s, to be precise). Vacant lots, then, are lenses through which we might magnify historical moments of transition. The project is both temporal and ephemeral, since it draws upon image caches that will eventually be replaced. The piece presents a virtual walking tour of impending gentrification, inviting viewers to glean other potential patterns and note other telling details on the tour, so that they can come to their own conclusions. In all of these photographs, the viewer can also note graffiti and street art nearby. This feels simultaneously apropos and ironic, as vacant lots and graffiti have often served as signs of urban decay. Now, we look at these same signifiers as omens of impending displacement, rallying cries for resistance against the gentrifiers, or intimations of rising property values and expected profits– all depending on where each of us stands. Vacated mines and combines different data sets on vacant lots to present a sort of physical facade of gentrification, one that immediately prompts questions by virtue of its incompleteness: “Vacated by whom? Why? How long had they been there? And who’s replacing them?”
(Note: The NYC building footprint dataset contains some inaccuracies. Still, these dates have been included to provide an estimated historical context.)
about the artist.
Justin Blinder is a Brooklyn-based artist, programmer, and researcher. His work examines how big data has shaped our claims of ownership, criteria for an object’s value, and social interactions in the built environment. Justin’s projects have been included in exhibitions at the New York MoMA, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, the Collection Museum in Lincoln, England, Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, and Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York. Justin holds a BFA in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design and was formerly an Honorary Fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center. He currently teaches at Parsons and City College CUNY. Artist Website