“On Broadway” was created by a team of artists, developers and hacktivists by “hacking” a wide array of NYC datasets to “represent the 21st century city” through its social media.
The piece is on display at the Public Eye exhibition at the New York Public Library until January 3rd, 2016.
The creators were inspired by the 1966 project Every Building on the Sunset Strip by Edward Ruscha. The book unfolds to 25 feet to show continuous photographic views of a 1.5 mile section of Sunset Boulevard.
On Broadway has the same effect, except it accomplishes it using powerful computer processors and touch screens. Visitors scroll along every cross street of Broadway to get the surrounding views. Some of the images are as clinical as Google Street View images while some are as personal as family “selfies.”
Lev Manovich, one of the creators of the project and a professor of computer science at CUNY, had his lab gather Instagram images and their data (locations, date and time, tags, etc.) for 158 days in 2014.
The creators were not just interested in aesthetics. They discovered that “social inequality and digital divide are now joined by a social media divide which is even more extreme.” In richer areas of Broadway (based on American Community Survey data), people also post images on Instagram and Twitter, and take more taxis. The opposite is true in less affluent areas.
Want to see for yourself? If you have a high-resolution screen and a fast processor, “On Broadway” can also be viewed as a web-based application.