We’re working with the documentary evidence, which is itself personalized in a number of ways, and again, by just photographing the shoreline to the Delaware from Trenton all the way down to Cape May and Cape Henlopen. This involved both surveying the shore from land, going out, bicycling, walking, driving and mapping, in a sense, the material landscape. What is the landscape made of? Concrete, trees, bushes, tanks, old houses, new houses. What’s there?

So many of the areas one sees in satellite imaging are just raised, scarred lots where nothing will grow, where there are clearly problems; but we don’t know what those problems are. And so how does one find that out?

How can you travel to places you can’t physically go or to times you can’t physically go to, and pull those stories and make them your own?


Estuary/Toxi∙City is the work of director and artist Roderick Coover. Estuary, a large-format book, and Toxi∙City, a digital video installation, take on the past, present, and future of waterways like the Delaware and Thames rivers. The estuaries of both rivers provided rich fodder for a sensory experience of the impact of climate change and chemical pollutants on our waters and landscapes. How do we construct and understand our changing landscapes? How do we adjust to the future of our landscapes, and how do we modify them?

Full credits for Estuary/Toxi∙City:

Estuary, 2013

Artist book by Roderick Coover, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Database research assistant: Conor Hafertepe

Field-research assistants: Julisa Basak, Chad Bevins, Conor Hafertepe, Paul Hinson, Bruce Byker James, Max Marin, Nate Quinn, Nicole Rothschild, and Chad Sims

Toxi•City, 2013

Director/artist: Roderick Coover

Script: Scott Rettberg

Sound technician: Joseph Kraemer

Cast: Aram Aghazarian, Don Anstock, Kamili Feelings, Alice Gatling, Cynthia Geonnotti, Steve Geonnotti, Saskia Hargrove, Chris Monaco, and Chris Whelan

Visit to view the Chemical Map. 

Roderick Coover’s work spans films, interactive cinema, installations, webworks, and published papers. Coover uses experimental documentary methods and new digital media to uncover the places where social sciences, humanities, technology, and memory intersect. In an interview with CHF staff Coover reflected on the creation of Estuary/Toxi•City, on how we construct and modify the landscapes of our memory, and on his own work process. Watch the clips to hear about and see how Coover’s work uncovers new ideas about the narratives of the natural world that surrounds us. Learn more about Coover at

Watch the four videos above: Roderick Coover discusses how we can reconcile the landscapes of our memory, present, and potential future; the ideas behind his works, Estuary/Toxi•City; the methods he and his team used to develop Estuary/Toxi•City; and what happens when past and present maps and the stories of our memory interact. Use the arrows to navigate through the videos and images.


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