Blog Post 3 – a threat wrapped up in millennial branding

I am currently working with establishing the affect of my video and the affective response I aim to get from an audience. This has proven to be more difficult than I was expecting. I think that some of my struggle stems from the aesthetic of the very place I am trying to highlight as posing a threat. Industry City as a complex is new and entirely designed to appeal to people like me- young middle and upper-middle class people. And aesthetically, it works. I like their signage, the buildings look clean and refurbished. But these aesthetics don’t make the development inherently good. It just means that I have an internalized idea of what an attractive place should look like. Because of this, I find it difficult to show IC in videos and photographs while still emphasizing the threat it poses to the community.

In Affective Turn, Heather Houser writes “whether through fear, disgust, anxiety, or wonder, realizing vulnerability is rarely an easy matter” (Houser 16). I’ve noticed that I am struggling to capture the vulnerability of the Sunset Park community in a visual way. I don’t want to exploit this community or make it appear to be sad because it’s not- it’s a place that is full of people and diversity and life. However, I am trying to emphasize a precarity and establish a sense of threat to the community through my video project.

Because gentrification and displacement happen over time, there is no super obvious way to storyboard how to show these things when I’m taking video in the present day- not capturing change over a long period of time. In Urbanibalism, Wietske Maas and Matteo Pasquinelli envision the urban landscape and the way humans interact with it as a stomach. They write “innervated by flows of energy and matter… the urban landscape is alive… the world is seen as a geological metabolism” (Maas, Pasquinelli 443). This writing presents such an extreme visual as the ecology as a living, changing, devouring thing. It makes me think of elements of this urban landscape within Sunset Park that I may be able to capture to show the process of gentrification that exist as part of the community. Things like traffic and construction can be shown as a visual to accompany a human element and make the narrative feel more complete.

This also makes me think of the neighborhood as a sort of commons, as described in Lindsay Grace Weber’s The Commons. She describes the concept of the commons as “one which acknowledges and affirms the interconnected, transversal relations of all living matter” (Weber 86). While Weber’s “commons” can be more theoretical, as I sat in the park within Sunset Park on Saturday, surrounded by families, young couples, older residents, speaking different languages and listening to different music, I felt like Sunset Park was a common of its own. It’s a diverse, working community that thrives as a mix of everything that everyone brings to the table. Perhaps a way to show IC as a threat is to emphasize that this development is not actively working with this “interconnected” community.

Ultimately, in working on my video (deciding what to shoot, who to reach out to, how to edit, etc), I have to consider my audience. From what I have researched, people in the Sunset Park community understand what is happening with all of the luxury development following IC. I am interested in reaching out to an audience of people like myself who are the target market for developments like IC. After learning about how the development is disrupting the community, I shop at local small businesses when I visit Sunset Park and I think other people might do the same if they were to interact with media that explains the problem. Koen Leurs, Tamara Shepard, and Alison Harvey write in Youth about how young people are shaped by interaction with media ad tech- “young people navigate the opportunities that these shifts [hardware and software] afford in their quest to stake out their livelihoods and identities” (Leurs et al, 463). I think that I can create a piece of media through my video project that will be a familiar media format appealing to young people like myself, and I will be able to use this technology to influence this audience and spread the word about what is happening in Sunset Park.


~ by kaylabullwinkel on March 31, 2019.