Gentrification Battlefield At MoMA

  • Last year we created Gentrification Battlefield for the occasion of the Noord exhibition at new media and art institute Mediamatic in Amsterdam. The exhibition consisted of works by 22 artists in and about the district of Amsterdam-Noord (North Amsterdam). Gentrification Battlefield aimed to address the issue of gentrification processes in Noord by presenting a trailer of a simulated isometric real-time strategy game where the old and new inhabitants of Amsterdam-Noord are fighting over possession of the land. We are happy and very proud to announce that our work has been selected by New York’s Museum of Modern Art for their latest exhibition Talk to Me! Talk to Me opens on July 24 and explores the communication between people and things, featuring a variety of designs that enhance communicative possibilities and embody a new balance between technology and people.

    Gentrification Battlefield
    Along with 21 Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Dutch artists and designers, we spent the Summer of 2010 mapping Amsterdam-Noord’s visible and invisible locations, people and data flows, and research its history and future. Our collective work resulted in an exhibition and gave rise to the first Arabic travel guide to the Netherlands. We decided to explore the classic urban phenomenon of gentrification in Amsterdam-Noord. Ten years ago only a few dared to cross the IJ river to occupy an abandoned hangar. Meanwhile, the frontline of ‘gentrification’ has moved. The NDSM Wharf is firmly in the hands of the invading forces led by companies such as MTV. And also the car repair shops of Buiksloterham and Nieuwendammerham lose ground to creative companies with concrete poured floors and apple green chairs.

    To provide insight in how the gentrification evolves, we decided to present the process as if it were a battle. In collaboration with animation artist Coen Rens (check out his great work!) we created Gentrification Battlefield, a video that presents gentrification in a whole new way — as a possible computer game. The result is an animation which shows a simulated isometric real-time-strategy game where the old and new inhabitants are fighting over possession of the land. In Gentrification Battlefield, which has the retro aesthetic of a first-generation PlayStation game, you can either be Timo, a hipster driving a Volkswagen van, or Sjaan, an elderly resident threatened with eviction; the neighborhood battlefield is rendered complete with key landmarks. By presenting the process of gentrification as a real battle, the game provides insight into the political and social complexities of the issue.

    Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects
    MoMA’s newest exhibition Talk to Me brings technological breakthroughs up or down to a comfortable, understandable human scale. It focuses on objects that involve a direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users. Examples range from a few iconic products of the late 1960s to several projects currently in development — including computer and machine interfaces, websites, video games, devices and tools, furniture and physical products, and extending to installations and whole environments. Talk to Me features 194 works by artists and designers like Evan Roth, Nicholas Felton and Aram Bartholl.

    Talk to Me explores this new terrain, featuring a variety of designs that enhance communicative possibilities and embody a new balance between technology and people, bringing technological breakthroughs up or down to a comfortable, understandable human scale. Designers are using the whole world to communicate, transforming it into a live stage for an information parkour and enriching our lives with emotion, motion, direction, depth, and freedom.”

    Click here to check out all works that are included in the Talk to Me exhibition (including ours!). Gentrification Battlefield has its own page on the exhibition website — click here to learn more about the work, view images and explore its relation to other artworks that are featured in the exhibition. Our work is also featured in the Talk to Me exhibition catalogue, which is sold offline and online. Talk to Me opens on July 24 and will be running until November 7. Be sure to check it out when you happen to be in New York!