SPRING / SUMMER 2019
Jeanne Liotta. Gowanus Cocktails (2008).
About 10 years ago, I had a studio on the corner of Bond and Fourth streets in Brooklyn where I undertook numerous microcultural investigations into that specific maritime-industrial location, The Gowanus Canal, by canoe. Using various field-recording tactics and mediums to document this storied arterial waterway overworked by humans, animals, chemicals criminals and microbes, barges, bridges, elevated trains, and an occasional blue heron. Beneath the old bridge crossings and cement factories, following the canal from its head at the Douglas St. flushing station, past the whale-like working barges and scrap metal lots and out through the Buttermilk Channel into The Harbor. I breathed in heavy metals, and was deluged by carbon monoxide from the permanent traffic jam on the BQE overhead, and gingerly attempted to gather samples in sound and image without falling in, beckoned by swifter waters and free passage to the sea beyond. Canoeing is a peaceful pastime in New York City, even as the suns sets behind the giant oil tankers leaking benzene into the groundwater forever. Contradictions abound, and so much information gets left out of an image. Here I grapple with a dire and watery subject.
"As one explores the terrain of these practices, something is constantly slipping away, something that can be neither said nor taught but must be practiced."
— Michel de Certeau
Special thanks goes out to Kevin T.Allen, hydrophonographer, fellow Brooklyn Dredger, and first mate.