On November 8th, 2011, The North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition (nbART) announced the selection of its sixth public art project, The Newtown Creek Armada, an interactive installation in which a model boat pond will be created on the Newtown Creek, one of America's most polluted waterways. The Newtown Creek Armada is a collaboration between myself and two other Brooklyn artists - Laura Chipley and Sarah Nelson Wright - whose work also explores industry, ecology, and change in urban spaces. The project was created in response to nbECO 2012, an open call seeking environmentally and sustainability conscious art installations.
The Newtown Creek Armada will be launched in Fall 2012, when visitors will be invited to pilot a fleet of artist-created, miniature, radio-controlled boats along the Newtown Creek's surface, while at the same time documenting the world hidden beneath the water. Each boat in The Armada will be equipped with a waterproof camera, allowing participants to record a unique voyage on and under the creek. Video from these underwater explorations will be on view at the creek, giving visitors a chance to virtually immerse themselves in the toxic waters of this Superfund site. In 2013, the archive of voyages from The Armada will be presented in an immersive gallery installation.
The Newtown Creek has been a neglected toxic waste zone for more than a century, and has been described as "the bleeding edge of an environmental disaster, one of the largest oil spills in the world," by Mother Jones Magazine. I have been photographing the polluted banks of the Newtown Creek for several years, as part of my explorations of New York City's industrial edges. Photo essays on this website about aspects of life along the creek include Newtown Creek: Brooklyn Shores (2011), Secret Parties (2009), The Dutch Kills (2008) and Linden Hill Tracks (2007). In 2010, the Newtown Creek was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a massive cleanup effort is now underway. The Newtown Creek Armada will engage the long history of the creek while inviting the public to explore the potential of its polluted waters.
For more information on The Newtown Creek Armada, please visit the project's website: www.newtowncreekarmada.org