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a specimen collection of human habitats and the individuals that reside alone within them.

inspired by Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017)

Today, more than a third of New Yorkers live by themselves.

This is the only period in human history that civilization has supported multitudes of single occupant households.

This is a recording of such habitats. 



Alee, 3D print


Identities seem fixed and solid only when seen, in a flash, from outside. Whatever solidity they might have when contemplated from the inside of one’s own biographical experience appears fragile, vulnerable, and constantly torn apart by shearing forces which lay bare its fluidity and by cross-currents which threaten to rend in pieces and carry away any form they might have acquired.

Zygmunt Bauman, ‘Liquid Modernity’

WATERTIGHT is a collection of 3D-printed portraits of New York single-occupant homes and the inhabitants that occupy them.The proportion of people living in multiple-occupant households is in decline in cities around the world. In Manhattan – New York’s most dense borough – more than 50% of inhabitants now live by themselves.

This phenomenon is encapsulated in a series of digitally-fabricated sculptures of city-dwellers in their individual living units. The domestic environment of each character forms a protective shell, much like a hermit crab’s adopted home. Inside, the inhabitant fills their space with material embodiments of their personal histories. Each 3D-printed portrait, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, is a corporeal version of a New Yorker’s story; a glimpse into a life in progress.

Each WATERTIGHT character lives alone for different reasons, but collectively they represent a cross-section of the city’s adapting housing infrastructure in this moment in time. In total, there are twelve specimens in this collection.

To fulfill this anthropological expedition archiving human ecology in transition, WATERTIGHT makes use of cutting-edge technology that will soon be obsolete. Using a volumetric scanner, the spatial and color information is recorded. The digital model is then processed and printed in 3D as a physical model. Both the hardware capture device and the processing software contribute unexpected glitches and organic visual artefacts. As such, the technology becomes a documentarian, interpreting this reality with an ambiguous algorithm. It generates an objective yet non-replicable version of these living compartments in a city.

WATERTIGHT uses the tropes of academic classification and archiving to present these 3D-printed portraits in the context of urban housing trends, social flux, and digital documentation techniques. The exhibit display draws on the aesthetics of archaeological excavations and natural history museums.

Created by
Ziv Schneider and Caitlin Robinson

Thanks to
Alee Ruggieri
Amelia Nichola​s​
Emily Loughlin
Jerry Williams
Lamora Beary
Marc Abby
Margaret Kyrkostas
Mei-Ling Wong
Rob Scher
Shir Stein
Thelma and Belle
Vitaly Shter

LaGuardia Studios​:
Taylor Absher
Taylor Shields
Shelly Smith
Dhemerae Ford

Pioneer Works
Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television
Print Screen Digital Arts and Culture festival, Israel