Exit Zero: An Atlas of One City Block Through Time

S. Topiary Landberg, United States

Exit Zero: An Atlas of One City Block Through Time


Exit Zero: An Atlas of One City Block Through Time is a web-based, interactive documentary (i-Doc) about a single central San Francisco city block and the site of multiple, dramatic urban transformations. The block—once in the center of a vibrant multi-ethnic Victorian neighborhood—was transformed into a freeway exit, subsequently damaged by earthquake, then became an “interim-use” community garden, and is today the site of  a “green-living” apartment complex.

Using the microcosm of a single city block, Exit Zero allows users to navigate across time periods and explore poetic connections through history using the interactive “metaphor compass” interface. As a synecdoche of the dynamics of hyper-gentrification plaguing San Francisco today, Exit Zero invites its audience to get tangled in a web of interconnections that lay bare the legacies of racial and environmental injustice to offer a complex view of San Francisco’s history and identity as a progressive vanguard.

Mapping the dynamics of change and placing competing narratives about sustainability in counterpoint with mobility, from pre-Colonial Ohlone territory, to the tech-informed Gold Rush of today, Exit Zero allows the past to speak to the present.

S Topiary Landberg

S Topiary Landberg is a digital artist, curator and scholar. She holds a PhD in Film and Digital Media from University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA from Bard College. While serving as the Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Oakland Museum of California, she produced/co-curated the online Dorothea Lange exhibition: https://dorothealange.museumca.org/. Her multi-media performances and films have been presented in theaters, galleries and festivals in NYC, SF and internationally and she has been published in Camera Obscura, Film Quarterly and the edited collection Reclaiming Popular Documentary (Indiana University Press, 2021).  http://www.topiary.land.