This is a presentation of two different approaches and visualizations of a stream crossing a low income community in the south of the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. It illustrates how Google Street View, which could be considered a proxy to the formal city, fails to capture significant environmental and health threats to the community.
Instead, the visualization of those problems appears in research conducted in Websites, Blogs and YouTube, looking for claims and demands about conflicts on the territory which have been uploaded by members of civil society (individuals, neighbors associations, community groups, NGOs, local media, etc.). Those images and videos expose environmental and social threats such as garbage, stream contamination, and extreme poverty, which are located on the banks of the open air sections of the stream.
The blue lines of the Google Street View on the larger map of Buenos Aires, could be understood as representing the formal city; therefore, this Google virtual walk provides images of what the formal city recognizes as such. In contrast, the images and videos captured in our research reveal other geographies, identified and made visible by the residents of the area, looking for recognition of their “invisible” and highly vulnerable situation.
This analysis raises a cautionary warning that our technical approaches to collecting urban data may contain the same biases and gaps found in the established forms of urban analysis, which very often overlook spaces of extreme needs.
This work is one component of an ongoing research project about disciplinary and extra-disciplinary anticipations of the urban future in Buenos Aires, conducted by a team of researchers of the New School, New York and the Facultad de Arquitectura Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de Buenos Aires.