For over 150 years, New York City’s Newtown Creek has been home to the processing and transport of various toxic materials including scrap metal, concrete, fossil fuels, and human waste. As one of the most polluted waterways in the country, Newtown Creek remains without a remediation plan. The creek is, in its way, a testament to business and progress, as much a part of the Rockefellers’ and other New York industrialists’ legacies as Rockefeller Center, The Chrysler Building, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Combining period photography and advertising with wide-angle and time-lapse footage, this audio-video piece juxtaposes the vastness of the landscape with its history of exploitation, neglect, and toxic dumping. Using montage, audiences may briefly immerse themselves in this forlorn and generally inaccessible area, seeing it as a lost paradise on the edge of a megalopolis.
This project innovates by showcasing an underseen area with a 180° camera system. Giving viewers a brief tour of a visually striking, historically significant, environmentally terrifying, yet generally unacknowledged New York City waterway with such a wide-angle point of view confirms the technology’s potential for observational and experimental work.