Drift Roads, Neck Creek

Nate Dorr | 2018 | 6 min

Neck Creek. Formerly Chelsea Creek or Cannon Creek. Far on the western shore of Staten Island, looking out across Arthur Kill towards New Jersey's Chemical Coast. A commercial/industrial neighborhood entirely submerged during hurricane Sandy in 2012. Affected by three oil spills, one of 567,000 gallons, in 1990 alone. Subject to other forces in earlier days.

This film attempts a psychogeographic investigation of an atypical New York City landscape, an overlooked stretch of the Staten Island shoreline where the waves of passing chemical tankers lick empty sand beaches, concrete relics lie forgotten, and waving forests climb over mounds of industrial debris. Exploration and dislocation in the present bleeds back into the past through fragments of the writings of William T. Davis (1862 - 1945), local Staten Island naturalist and historian. Though lacking a formal science education and clearly possessed of an interest in the esoteric and folkloric, Davis became a noted entomologist, helped open the first wildlife refuge in New York City, and co-founded the Staten Island Institute of the Arts and Sciences, today evolved into the Staten Island Museum. Perhaps the subjects of Davis' natural and supernatural notes circa the 1890s have not gone away as New York has modernized and developed. Some places retain their power. Some things only change form.

Initially created as part of Chance Ecologies.

Password available upon request.
Shoreline Change, Works on Water House, New York (July 2019)
An early version appeared in Chance Ecologies: Wild Panorama Walk, Queens Museum (2018)
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