Fort Point Canal Sculptures Model How High Water Could Rise In The City


As Earth’s temperature rises, parts of Boston will face higher tides that will flood city streets, while reaching new heights of water in low-lying areas like parts of southern Boston. To help people understand what’s going on, artist and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Carolina Aragón, wants to interpret climate change in a more nuanced way, educating the public about the looming realities of a bigger planet. hot.

Aragón created “FutureSHORELINE”, a temporary art installation that shows the predicted flooding in Boston, due to sea level rise. A 10-foot-tall sculpture, made from blue lobster cages, floats in the Fort Point Channel. In three levels, each level represents the projected rise in sea level rise for the years 2030, 2050 and 2070.

“My work has become really focused on visualizing these things in three-dimensional space, in the real places where this flood will occur,” said Aragón. “The idea is not to deceive, but to do it in a way that allows all of us to retain this information a little longer.” Aragón said responses to climate change will take “a lot of books” and require efforts at individual, urban, societal and environmental scales. The action will require citizens to ask tough questions and be able to sit still with the discomfort of the first answers.

Artist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Carolina Aragón. (Courtesy of Matt Conti)

The installation also includes land sculptures, made up of yellow lobster cages, set atop the harbor promenade. They model how a proposed berm could serve as a wall, blocking flooding at three different heights, 2.7 feet, 4.4 feet, and 6 feet above the ground. Funding came in part from Fort Point Arts and UMass Amherst.

The materials for the facility are almost entirely made in Massachusetts, with the wire cages sourced from Riverdale Mills in Northbridge. The traps contain 3,600 aluminum fins, punched by hand with the help of UMass students and suspended by wires and steel rings. Aragón said that these elements are supposed to reflect light, like water.

“Everything is built,” said Aragon. “Climate change is a man-made phenomenon. The making of the shore is artificial. It is definitely at the heart of “FutureSHORELINE”.

Aragón said the article illustrated daily, seasonal and exceptional tidal changes as variables that influence flooding. She wants viewers to understand and deal with climate change in an immediate, almost physical way. “With ‘FutureSHORELINE’ you can measure your body against the sculptures and also see the increasing amounts of water above the Fort Point Canal. It’s a whole different way of knowing what you get by looking at a diagram, a table or a drawing in a book or a map.

Paul Kirshen of UMass Boston’s Durable Solutions Lab helped provide the scientific research that governs the project, acknowledging that Aragon’s work is very precise. The data he provided to him takes into account all the factors that influence flooding, such as the impact of coastal storms and high tides. To respond to global warming, he said, adaptation will be necessary.

Yellow lobster cages on land show how a proposed berm could act as a wall, blocking flooding at three different heights.  (Courtesy of Matt Conti)
Yellow lobster cages on land show how a proposed berm could act as a wall, blocking flooding at three different heights. (Courtesy of Matt Conti)

“There are three classic options for dealing with increasing coastal flooding,” Kirshen said. The first way to respond to the threat is to offer protection, by building a berm or a wall. The second is to accommodate, let the flooding occur but raise the buildings to lessen the impact. A third possibility is to withdraw, to move away from the coast. While Kirshen says the city is currently more or less adapting to coastal flooding, a new approach is needed, most likely some form of protection. “The city of Boston has decided that what they want to do, and I think it’s a wise approach, is that they’re basically going to uplift the coastline with what we call nature-based solutions, or green infrastructure. “

Aragón said she wanted people to be involved in sculpture in their daily lives. Anyone passing through can observe the work and think about space differently thanks to it.

“It catches you in your natural state,” Aragón said. “For me, I always try to create imaginary landscapes or things that have their own life. The exterior is just ready for this, because there are changes in living conditions, there is wind, there are changes in temperature. It’s such a dynamic environment. It doesn’t take much for something magical to happen.


The installation is expected to be on display until the end of summer.


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