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One more day to see Future Perfect, an interactive view of AY

After walking around the Atlantic Yards footprint yesterday, trying to describe, with some visual aids, what Forest City Ratner aims to build, it was a trippy experience to see the Future Perfect installation at the d.u.m.b.o. art under the bridge festival.

(It's showing through today--from 1 to 6 pm, maybe later--at 20 Jay Street, M24, on the Mezzanine floor.)

The video shows the streets of Prospect Heights, but as you walk closer to the installation, architectural renderings of the project appear on the screen, while taped phone calls of residents expressing their opinions about the project are heard. (A majority, I think, are negative, but the voices are tough to decipher in places.)

Walk even closer and we see instead images produced by local schoolchildren--their vision for the streets. As the designers state, "The installation is interactive in that both these 'futures' are only revealed by someone's physical presence."

Given that children tend not to imagine the same scale as developers, or even those behind the fairly dense alternative UNITY plan, the dice are a little loaded. But the installation is still fascinating, and another example of how emerging technology can be used to provide perspectives beyond the officials ones.

Lumi Rolley of No Land Grab conducted a comprehensive interview with creators Ed Purver and Chris Croft, and a demo video link is also available. But you have to experience the installation in person to get the full effect.


  1. The Future Perfect installation is well worth getting to. It utilizes a sophisticated interactive program functioning smoothly, effectively and remarkably glitch free. I realized though when I saw it that even though I had experienced more about the virtually unimaginable large scale of the proposed Atlantic Yards project I still hadn’t truly experienced this scale. The Future Perfect installation- whose job, challenge and goal is to present scale in an understandable way, is a perfect example of how difficult it is to present scale information in a way that people really get it- As pointed out by other posts on Atlantic Yards Reports, the scale of the proposed project is one of the things that Forrest City Ranter most perpetually and consistently misrepresents in its brochures. FRC apparently finds the public’s inability to grasp scale a vulnerability particularly worth exploiting. (Politicians and public officials, the Borough President included, are also almost certainly among those who don’t fully and competently comprehend the proposed project’s scale.)

    As hard as it tries, the Future Perfect installation succeeds only partially in conveying an experience of the proposed project’s scale. The installation had to be calibrated to and fit within the art space where it was on display yesterday. I noticed how small the passing cars in the film seemed. The movie screen went to the top of the ceiling but was not tall or wide enough to allow me feel as if I was actually on the street corners in the depictions.

    If you live close to the proposed Atlantic Yards project and have walked the environment of its footprint it is easier to adjust in one’s mind’s eye and understand the scale. The much larger population consisting of those furthest from the AY site are at one and the same time the most important audience to convey scale information to and the hardest. I find that when I talk with people and the scale issue hit home for them they are utterly amazed and aghast.


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