Finnish designer Candy Chang’s installation in Brooklyn explores the price of housing, owner/renter mobility, and location. Over the course of one week and several rainstorms, Candy collected data on participants’ homes: their size, location, cost, and duration of occupancy. She publicly displayed these before aggregating the data into infographics reflecting the city’s housing strata.
Her work yields potential avenues for our thinking about Life Lab to walk. Where she sought to uncover a community narrative, she found a suitable format for engagement. The Post-its contain much information, are accessible to anyone who has played Madlibs or done grammar homework, and are easily disseminated and logged.
Wanting to dig more deeply into the ramifications of housing costs, DS4SI’s job is to visualize the same data in real time, while maintaining a participatory format. There are questions of exchange that we’d need to explore – how to solicit and instantly display the information (exchange between source and result) or how to productively interact with participants (an exchange of labor).
An obvious difference between Life Lab and I’ve Lived is the latter’s emphasis on history. Chang looks at the occupants’ time spent in the neighborhood and the data yields lessons about mobility, suggesting that lifetime residents are considerably advantaged over renters. Life Lab frames issues in a sense of urgency. It says real people have x, y, and z going on in (y)our neighborhood, and publicly creating ideas together will help us intervene.
A successful deployment of Life Lab could bridge this difference if we give some thought to foregrounding the context in which we place the installation.
I’ve Lived was part of the Windows Brooklyn exhibit that paired artists with storefront windows in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens June 14-22, 2008.