The Soul in the New Machines
Feb 22, 2008 — The New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff

Nicolai Ouroussoff reviews MoMA's Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition which features "Architecture and Justice":

"Bioengineered crossbreeds. Temperamental robots. Spermatozoa imprinted with secret texts. Although the fascination with organic form has been around since the Renaissance, we have now entered an age in which designers and architects are drawing their inspiration from hidden patterns in nature rather than from pretty leaves or snowflakes. The results can be scary, but they may also hold the key to paradise.

“Design and the Elastic Mind,” an exhilarating new show opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art, makes the case that through the mechanism of design, scientific advances of the last decade have at least opened the way to unexpected visual pleasures.


Perhaps the most unnerving project here is “Architecture and Justice” from the Million Dollar Blocks Project, a graphic study by Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab. Using the computer to filter through masses of data on prison populations, the group studied several American cities and identified the blocks where the highest concentration of prison inmates lived when they were arrested. That more than $1 million a year is spent on incarcerating people from each one of these blocks is shocking misuse of resources.

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The graphic display on a blood-red grid is a bold expression of how the computer can be a powerful analytical tool for dislodging received wisdom and enabling us to examine entrenched social problems through a new lens."

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