Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

News About About Concept Manifesto Structure Installation Archipelago Technology Images Exhibitions Events Docking Schedule Logbook Sponsor Contact

The Waterpod™ Beta Sculpture

Global warming, 11,000 years ago melted the Wisconsin glacier, swelling the Atlantic Ocean.  Seawater muscled its way between a formidable wedge of schist and two huge dirt piles deposited by the scraping edge of what was a miles-thick continental ice sheet.  A knobby expanse on the coast of North America, cleaved by the tidal strait called the East River, was transformed into Manhattan and Long Island. -Greater Astoria Historical Society

The Legend, Lore, and Lure of Newtown Creek

For many years, the Newtown Creek in New York functioned somewhat like the Bermuda Triangle in the Western Atlantic Ocean.  Dutch and English vessels would enter the mouth of the Newtown Creek: a Superhighway for the 18th Century. Whenever ships escaped the treacherous maze of Hell Gate’s lethal tides and the jagged reefs just north of the Newtown Creek, the subsequent quiet waters between Brooklyn and Queens appeared harmless.  Curiosity propelled explorers up the creek until they neared the Dutch and English Kills.  

There, time felt as if it were standing still. Ships would surrender to the shallow sandbars and anchor.  The calm waters would often lull the entire crew into serenity. Decades passed, and the Dutch and English Kills were settled.  Greenpoint and Astoria were transformed into bustling destinations.  The Creek continued to collect the skeletons of ships left behind: cargo, brine, ships’ parts, and sediment.  The stillness of the water instilled a feeling of safety that masked the true nature and the varied contents of the Creek. pod  During the Industrial Revolution of the early to mid 20th century, pollutants were regularly dumped into the Creek’s basin.  The Newtown Creek bears history to a twenty-year oil spill ending in the 1990s and prior to that, the expansive Manhattan Project had utilized its shoreline as a site for nuclear testing.  The Phelps Dodge Copper Refinery spewed residue into the Creek.  Copper and other sediment clung to the oil, weighing it down into the depths of the creek

By tidal action, the Newtown Creek rose and fell twice a day, yet to an onlooker, the water appeared as still as the concrete walls that now encase it.  The mouth of the Newtown Creek, at 40° 44’ 14” N and 73° 57’ 40” W, swirled around in a constant backwards-forwards motion as it attempted to empty into the East River, collecting sediment and brine and adding it to the sewage outfall.  The warming and cooling of the water fostered reactions between the sludge and the briny sediment.  Spherical shapes that mimicked the motion of the water began to grow from the combined substances; chemicals stretched and pulled, hardening into a plastic-like substance.  The salty content of the estuaries repeatedly cleaned and cleared any buildup, hollowing and creating translucent shells. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the Creek, a thick layer of oil began to solidify and make its home. pod2 Despite industrialization, urbanization, and an epic oil spill, nature silently endures in Newtown Creek.  During the river cleanup of the late nineties and after 2000, these sediment-encrusted structures began to dislodge and rise to the top of the Creek. The inhabitants of the Creek clung to these floating creations: snapping turtles, egrets, herons, and geese all found their meals in the mollusks and bacteria that resided on these platforms.  These floating structures beautifully combined the natural with the unnatural, and it was not long before travelers and creators found a use for these platforms. People began to realize the platforms’ potential as land.   


 beta pod
photo by Mary Mattingly, © 2008.

beta pod
photo by Mary Mattingly, © 2008.

beta pod
photo by Mary Mattingly, © 2008.



Click to go to teh top of the page

News | About | Waterpod™ Team | Concept | Structure | Installation | Images | Exhibitions | Events | Submissions | Shop | Press | Logbook | Support | Sketches | Contact | Manifesto | Mary Mattingly | Mira Hunter | Eve K. Tremblay | Technology | Archipelago | Beta | Docking + Routes | Bloomberg | Chickens | Appropedia | Wooloo | Webmaster | Links



© 2008 Waterpod™/ The official website of Waterpod™