Castles Made of Sand: New York


Castles Made of Sand is a series of photographs of the low-lying areas of the New York Metropolitan area that are threatened by sea level rise. Hurricane Sandy was a harbinger of this reality and all of the locations shown in this series were damaged by that storm. Castles tells a local story but versions of this same story are unfolding globally. This story was once considered to be a scientific tale or maybe an engineering one. To understand the impact of sea level rise, one also needs sociology. A neighborhood’s social vulnerability index plays a huge role in what the outcome of rising tides and storm surges will be. Castles started at the water’s edge but also has come to encompass the neighborhoods behind the waterfront. The signs of social vulnerability are there to be deciphered from the built environment. And in New York City, this story is also a business one, entwined with the value of real estate and the city’s current building boom, which is currently transforming almost every neighborhood. Conceived of as a story of the end of the day, the end of an era, Castles was primarily shot in the evening before and after sunset. The resulting saturated color, often with the mixed color temperatures of artificial and natural light, creates a metaphor for the human forces behind acts of nature.