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.