Wage Islands is an interactive installation about wage and housing inequality in NYC. It was commissioned for The Storefront for Art and Architecture’s Measure. It came from a meeting with Fast Food Forward who’s been fighting to raise minimum wage to 15 an hour. We wanted to see how their access to the city would change based on housing costs. What would the city look like if its’ islands were based on wages? How much would it take for them to have access to all of the city? How could we create more empathy between minimum wage workers and citizens they serve? We spent four weeks creating a 3D topographic map of NYC with elevations based on wages from over 500 pieces of laser cut acrylic. The higher the level the lower the wages. The map was submerged in a tank with dark blue water. Inside was a lift and outside was an display with a button. Holding down on the button slowly raised the wages shown on the display and lifted the map to show the areas of access to housing above the water. When let go it lowered the map to the bottom showing only minimum wage.
GIS modeling: Ekene Ijeoma
3D modeling: Ryan Whitby, Jordan Tate
Laser cutting: Ekene Ijeoma and Ryan Whitby
Model making: Ekene Ijeoma
Engineering: Gwylim Johnstone
Arduino programming: Ekene Ijeoma
Videographer: Jacqueline L
Thanks to: Gary Chou, Deroy Peraza, Jason Lynch, Dallas Swindle, Pepin Gelardi, Jonathan Dahan, Jonathan Sparks, Eric Macneil, Richard Dunks, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga and Taeyoon Choi.