Here, twice a day, we are held by the ocean. (An augmented reality experience with the Lenapewihittuck / Zuidrivier / Delaware River).

Accessed from the end of Cherry Street Pier (121 N Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA).

The river in front of you and its tributary on the other side of the city, the Schuylkill River, are tidal. Twice a day, Philadelphia's banks shift by 6-8 feet, and water from the ocean mingles with freshwater from upriver. The city, bounded by these rivers, is held by the ocean. 

As you watch the augmented reality, you will see water pushed and pulled by the tides, by the moon. The connections between this place and the deep ocean are carried into view. Someday in the near future (by the year 2080), sea level rise indicates that the ocean will continue to swallow the banks of the city (by 24-38”). When this place was named Pennsylvania, there were more roots to hold the riverbanks in place; the latter part of the word, sylvania, means ‘from the forest’. These old growth forests had many other names before they were logged for farmland, for cityland. The white pines became boats, set to sail across the ocean.

I, the maker of this piece, am not from Philadelphia but I lived here for a handful of years. In this place, on the banks of the Delaware, I have fallen in and out of love. I have cried, salt tears mingling with salt water. I have imagined other futures, and become a little older. It is my body that you see in the animation, and it is my breath you hear in the music. History and the ocean, the gravitational pull of the moon, these are vast, incomprehensible beings. But then I think about the fact that my body is composed of rearranged molecules from countless other creatures, past and present, always cyclical. Here, twice a day, we are held by the ocean.

Music in the animation composed and performed by Evan Kassof, of ENAensemble.

This work was created for the exhibition Seeing The Anthropocene, curated by Julia Clift and taking place across multiple sites in Philadelphia, PA. Oct. 28 - Dec. 2, 2023.

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