Illuminate NYC Project Shares COVID-19 Data Through Creative Design

Illuminate NYC: COVID-19 installation at The Canvas. Photo by Alex Contell

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Illuminate NYC: COVID-19,” a creative and informative LED Light Art Installation, developed by the team at the Illuminate Cities Project Collective, is currently on display in the storefront at State Assemblyman Harvey Epstein’s office at 107 Ave. B, from 10am – 11pm, through May 17th, 2021. It is free and visible to anyone passing by. The installation is a large scale light-box in the shape of NYC’s five boroughs and uses light intensity and color saturation to form data maps which help the viewer visualize COVID-19’s impact on different communities, in turn tracking the neighborhoods that have been most affected by the pandemic, and exposing inequities among those most at risk. 

In an update sent to The Lo-Down, the team noted: “The installation will be updated in mid-April to include data about community level access to health care and local vaccination rates in order to provide a deeper look at the ongoing impact of the virus and the way it is increasing health disparities.”

The Illuminate Cities Project Collective is made up of a group of NY based planners and architects, including third generation Lower East Side resident and designer, Robyn Squires (founder, RYSQ), Co – founders Alexandra Payne (Amplify Studio) and Domingo Abrusci (DASH Architecture), and Elisa Forlini (Chartered RIBA Architect) managing Lighting Design. They write:

The installation gives the viewer a visual representation of the communities most impacted by Covid-19 in terms of infection and death rates, and then juxtapose this information with racial and economic demographics for those same areas. Specific communities were hit harder than others, suggesting and exposing underlying socio-structural issues. Viewers  are left with a dynamic, potent and lasting image of the pandemic’s impacts on specific neighborhoods. The illuminations are meant to drive awareness and force the viewer to question the underlying structures that are causing such vivid disparities within our city…

Illuminate NYC: COVID-19 installation at The Canvas. Photo by Alex Contell
Illuminate NYC: COVID-19 installation at The Canvas. Photo by Alex Contell

The project was initially launched this past December at The Canvas on the Bowery.

Project Manager Alexandra Payne has written more about the project, in depth, here.