In tandem with my academic research, I'm producing a series of short video essays about earthmoving and coastal cities. The project explores the intimate relationships between human technology, culture, and natural environments where cities meet the sea. 

The video above — "Global urban coast year in review" — was completed in March 2018 to reflect on the deluge of flood images throughout 2017. How should we approach this slow motion horror show of intensifying urban floods throughout the world? And knowing that the worst flooding often happens where land has been "reclaimed" from water bodies, why do humans keep trying to turn sand into land along the global urban coast?


This clip from 2013 is pulled from my film As If Sand Were Stone, about the making and remaking of New York City's coastlines. Here, contractors are dredging the Arthur Kill Channel as part of the New York Harbor Deepening Project. They take this toxic sludge, mix in concrete, and ship it upland for construction projects. The harbor deepening took more than a decade and cost around $1 billion, all to allow bigger container ships into regional ports. 


In this final clip, also from As If Sand Were Stone, landscape architect Gena Wirth (of SCAPE Studio and the Dredge Research Collaborative) introduces some of the key tensions in interpreting New York City's harbor ecology.

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors (2011)

Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible. Written and edited by Ben Mendelsohn, shot and animated by Alex Chohlas-Wood. Completed as part of my MA thesis in media studies at The New School, the project was advised by Shannon C. Mattern. 

The Fluid and the Solid (retired)

The Fluid and the Solid was the previous iteration of my documentary series about earthmoving and coastal cities. In this clip, we explore the relationship of earthmoving to ideas of nature in the Anthropocene.  

Protective Ecologies (2013) 

Selected submission to MoMA PS1's Rockaway Call for Ideas to create a sustainable waterfront. Proposal by Gena Wirth, video by Alex Chohlas-Wood and Ben Mendelsohn. Historic Jamaica Bay map courtesy Regional Plan Association.