Focusing on Newtown Creek, the polluted and little-known waterway that borders Brooklyn/Queens, the art collective Floating Studio for Dark Ecologies (FSDE) aims to expand awareness, citizenship and affection for this post-natural place, currently in the final assessments of the EPA Superfund process. We have been concerned with designing site-specific engagements and field guides that use diverse, creative ways of knowing place, and foster the idea that knowing is loving is caring-for. Our audiences over the multi-phase project of working on Newtown Creek include the voting local public, the Industrial Business Zone labor force, the environmental studies community, teenage citizen scientists, and city government agents.
Phase 1, “Oil Twitchers and Barge Spotters: A Field Guide to Whale Creek” uses the familiar forms of a field guide and a self-guided audio tour, to invite participants out to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, one of the few public access points on the Creek (and the fairly unknown jewel of Greenpoint, in our opinion, designed by the brilliant George Trakas in 2007 for the DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant).
The Field Guide and audio tour to Whale Creek -- the tiny offshoot of Newtown Creek that flanks Wastewater’s digester eggs -- and invites you, even tempts you, lovingly into the Creek’s toxic waters with its astonoshingly resilient fauna and its 25 feet of “black mayonnaise”, lays bare the power and complexity in trying to name what surrounds you.
FSDE (Nick Hubbard, Rebecca Lieberman, Marina Zurkow)
VO: Bruce Shakleford, Audio: Jane Kramer, Music: Justin Peake
An Audio Tour Dredges Up the Dark Ecology of NYC’s Newtown Creek, Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, 2017
7 Audio Journeys that Lets You Escape New York While Walking Its Streets, Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, 2017