The sculpture emerges out of the pool of water as wages rise.

Renting in New York City is prohibitively expensive for most people, and has been for a long, long time. Even “affordable housing” isn’t all that affordable. But while a lot of us feel the pinch, it’s hard to envision just how restricted access to housing is for people earning less than we do.

That’s where Ekene Ijeoma’s 3-D, interactive installation “Wage Islands” can help. Through the project (shown in video above), the Nigerian-American artist helps visualize how bad the city’s affordability crisis really is.

The installation contains a 3-D map of New York with an elevated terrain that corresponds with median rents from $271 to $4,001. At the beginning, the icy sculpture is submerged almost entirely in a pool of dark water. In front of it is a button which lets the viewer select a wage—anything from $8.75 an hour (the minimum wage in the city in 2015) to $77 an hour. As wages rise, so does the sculpture, exposing the parts of the city where someone at that income level would be able to live.

Here’s what Ijeoma tells Fusion’s Latoya Peterson about his project:

I wanted to see how much raising the minimum wage would change their geographies of access to the city. Wage Islands shows that it doesn’t grow much but maybe it gives them a better living within the geographies that they’re already in. What Wage Islands doesn’t show is the full-time low-wage workers who have jobs but are homeless—a lot of whom work for us; the city. That’s shocking!

H/t: Fusion

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Videos

    5 Ways to Seriously Battle Traffic

    So long as cars are among us, road pricing, ramp meters, and diamond-shaped intersections can mitigate horrendous commutes, a new video explains.

  2. Transportation

    Why Are Manhattan's Streets Getting Slower?

    The average speed of traffic has been falling for years, and it’s having a ripple effect on the city’s transit network.

  3. An empty storefront on a sidewalk with a "retail space for lease" sign in the window
    Life

    How Cities Can Save Small Shops

    Some places are already taking action, but New York City is lagging behind. Here’s a blueprint for keeping local retail healthy.

  4. Tomatoes, scallions, asparagus, and other vegetables spread out on a table
    Life

    For Peak Happiness, Spend Money to Save Time

    A study suggests time-saving services like meal delivery and housekeepers boost life satisfaction—for the purchaser, of course.

  5. Design

    What's Inside a Neighborhood in a Box?

    On the outskirts of New York City, a new housing model aimed at Millennials asks: What is city living?