The Geography of Poverty: Stark Photos of California’s Forgotten Communities

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Californian photographer Matt Black’s The Geography of Poverty uses Instagram’s geotagging capabilities in a novel and entirely utilitarian way. The project involves visiting and photographing poor communities throughout his home state of California, building up a map that charts deprivation and poverty in a state that’s home to the world’s eighth-largest economy. The idea of mapping poverty through art is a fascinating one, but the best thing about the project is the photos themselves (which we first saw at Photographs on the Brain). They’re stark, grainy images that seem to belong to a bygone era, looking like they were shot on high-speed black-and-white film — which only makes the fact that they’re a record of contemporary America all the more startling. You can see Black’s map here, and follow his work on Tumblr and/or Instagram.

Clouds, Arvin, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Apartment, Pixley, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Mailbox, Teviston, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Orange Grove, Easton, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Rangeland, Madera, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Shanty Camp Nails, Fresno, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Vegetable Picker, Firebaugh, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Homeless Camp, Fresno, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Toy Horse, Frazier Park, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Front Door, Taft, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Farn Worker Camp, Alpaugh, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black

Crop Duster Markers, Corcoran, CA. Photo credit: Matt Black