Newtown Creek Field Guide, Phase 1:
“Oil Twitchers and Barge Spotters: A Field Guide to Whale Creek”
Field guide, self-guided audio tour, website
Floating Studio for Dark Ecologies (FSDE)
(Nicholas Hubbard, Rebecca Lieberman, Marina Zurkow)
with Bruce Shackelford (voice), Jane Cramer (audio engineering), Justin Peake (music)
Funded in part by a Tisch School of the Arts Dean’s Faculty Grant, and the Brooklyn Arts Council
Project website:



Focusing on Newtown Creek, the polluted and little-known waterway that borders Brooklyn and Queens, the art collective Floating Studio for Dark Ecologies (FSDE) aims to expand awareness, citizenship and affection for this post-natural place that is currently in the final stage of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund assessment process. We have been concerned with designing site-specific engagements and field guides that use diverse, creative ways of knowing place, and foster the idea that knowing is loving is caring-for. Our audiences over the multi-phase project of working on Newtown Creek include the voting local public, the Industrial Business Zone labor force, the environmental studies community, teenage citizen scientists, and city government agents.
Phase 1, “Oil Twitchers and Barge Spotters: A Field Guide to Whale Creek” uses the familiar forms of a field guide and a self-guided audio tour to invite participants out to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, one of the few public access points on the Creek (and the fairly unknown jewel of Greenpoint, in our opinion, designed by the brilliant George Trakas in 2007 for the DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant).
The Field Guide and audio tour to Whale Creek—the tiny offshoot of Newtown Creek that flanks the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s Digester Eggs and invites you, even tempts you, lovingly into the Creek’s toxic waters with its astonishingly resilient fauna and its 25 feet of “black mayonnaise”—lays bare the power and complexity in trying to name what surrounds you.

An Audio Tour Dredges Up the Dark Ecology of NYC’s Newtown Creek, Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, 2017
7 Audio Journeys that Lets You Escape New York While Walking Its Streets, Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, 2017