PARK: 96 Acres

PARK was a large-scale data visualization, public art, and radio broadcast event produced as a collaboration between VisionArc Director, Landon Brown and Chicago-based art and community activist project 96 Acres. It was presented on August 15th, 2015 at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois.

Located on Chicago’s west side, The Cook County Jail is the largest county jail in the United States, occupying 96 acres of land within the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village. The jail houses 9,000 men and women, 50% of which hail from the immediately surrounding area. For many local residents the omnipresence of the jail symbolizes the over-prioritization of incarceration policies as opposed to more impactful investment into local programs and resources. Moreover, for residents who open their front doors to the sight of the vast complex every day an enduring reminder of the disproportionate impact that incarceration has on people of color in our cities and across the country.

PARK was designed to occupy one-half mile of residential street parking. Individual automobiles were crowd-sourced from local residents, prison staff, and other volunteers and parked alongside the jail in colored groupings of black, brown, and white. Together they visualized the racial statistics of the current inmate population. The event featured a live Chicago Public Media (Vocalo 90.7) broadcast of B.B. King’s 1970 performance, Live in Cook County Jail, through the AM/FM stereos of the parked cars. Visitors to the event were invited to record personal memories and stories related to the history of the jail and Chicago’s West side communities. The voices of local residents, community stakeholders, and elected officials merged with the sounds of King’s historic performance, permeating throughout the neighborhood and jail site. Here visualization and broadcast worked to build links between the shared experience of past and present, inside and outside, while creating future links between communities who have historically been without a common ground: an intimate exchange between local and civic stakeholders confronting the vast space of incarceration affecting our communities.

For more information on the project see

Credits: The PARK documentary was produced in collaboration with 96 Acres and Scrappers Film Group. Featured project image by Sandra Lopez.

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