Jody Zellen, The Unemployed
“The Unemployed” is an interactive installation that visualizes world wide unemployment. Using data culled from online sources that list unemployment rates by country, “The Unemployed” represents the jobless as animated figures who inhabit a generic cityscape. The number of monthly unemployed varies from country to country ranging from a few thousand in sparsely populated places to many millions in places like the United States, India, and China. The software randomly cycles through approximately 200 countries, drawing the number of unemployed as aimless wanderers, ambling across the screen (as they are unemployed). Whenever a viewer enters the space of the installation, their silhouette is captured by a video camera.
The software instructs the figures to inhabit that shape and move with it for the duration that they are in the camera’s scope of view. The silhouette metaphorically becomes an available labor force as well as the visible presence of the jobless. When the viewer leaves the camera’s frame the figures return to their urban wanderings. If the country has a large number of unemployed, there are enough figures to fill and move with numerous silhouettes. If the country has minimal unemployment the silhouette is only partially filled. Displaying the numerical statistics as figures allows for a powerful visualization, one that allows for immediate country comparisons that ultimately resonate differently than simple bar graphs.
The software was also used to create a series of prints http://www.jodyzellen.com/unemployment_project/unemployed.html and also became an interactive iphone app called urban rhythms https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/urban-rhythms/id466124689?mt=8
Jody Zellen is a Los Angeles based artist and writer who works in many media making interactive installations, mobile apps, net art, animations, drawings, paintings, photographs, public art, and artists’ books. She received a BA from Wesleyan University, a MFA from CalArts and a MPS from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Her interactive installations include “Time Jitters” a commission for the Halsey Institute at the College of Charleston, SC, 2014, “The Unemployed” at Disseny Hub Museum in Barcelona in 2011 and “The Blackest Spot” at Fringe Exhibitions in Los Angeles in 2008. Her net art projects are “Spine Sonnet,” 2011 (commissioned by LACMA), “Lines of Life,” (http://www.linesoflife.net) 2010 (commissioned by terminalapsu.org), “Without A Trace,” (http://turbulence.org/Works/without_a_trace/) 2009 (commissioned by turbulence.org).
Other net art projects include “Ghost City” (ghostcity.com) 1996-present, an ever changing poetic meditation on the urban environment, urbanfragments.net, allthenewsthatsfittoprint.net, talking-walls.com and disembodiedvoices.com. Most recently she has been making mobile apps. “Urban Rhythms,” “Spine Sonnet,” “Art Swipe,” “4 Square,” “Episodic,” and “Time Jitters” are her six apps. They are available in the iTunes Store.
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