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. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. a map of the Mayan Train route in Mexico
    Environment

    Mexico’s ‘Mayan Train’ Is Bound for Controversy

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s signature rail project would link cities and tourist sites in the Yucatan with rural areas and rainforests.

  4. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.

  5. Maps

    Mapping the Growing Gap Between Job Seekers and Employers

    Mapping job openings with available employees in major U.S. cities reveals a striking spatial mismatch, according to a new Urban Institute report.