Mapping Black Brooklyn

Did Harlem have all the black people? Did the slaves who created capital in Brooklyn, by way of their labor, leave Brooklyn after slavery? Or after Brooklyn transformed into an urban city? How could I visualize the demographic shifts of the black population influenced by slavery, First and Second Great Migrations, white flight, the Immigration Laws of 1965, and gentrification?

By utilizing past census information, an intentional process to survey the population and various other details about individuals, I provide a visual narrative of Black Brooklyn’s emergence and disappearance that addressed the aforementioned questions and enter historical production at the first place silence enters: fact retrieval.

 

 


 

“Places make memories cohere in complex ways.”

 — Dolores Hayden 

 

Now rewind back to moments of surveying history in Brooklyn’s material landscape and hearing nothing but feeling everything. Recall asking questions about Black Brooklyn and having them met with silence. Remember expecting answers from memorialized works that only spoke back to you in a variety of European tongues, and internalizing the fact that Black Brooklyn could not answer you. Virtual reality serves an embodiment of my experience with Black Brooklyn’s silence.

A computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional images and environments that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way, virtual reality warps time and takes us on a trip through space⁠. We land in Brooklyn. In this virtual world of Dare to Remember: A Digital Memorial of Black Brooklyn, we witness a switch from temporality to spatiality. Virtual reality for all its merit in visceral reaction, makes silence not only visual but also perceptible—haunting if you may. It manufactures that initial feeling of incommunicable frustration and recurring feelings of disorientation, making it a useful and generative digital platform to experience Black Brooklyn.

The map below notes all of the sites referenced in the DTR photo series. Use your mouse to use the 360 functionality. Click the bottom right icon to remove the menu. Click the map to change locations. If you have a google cardboard or similar device, please email for a compatible file.

 

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