This semester long project was part of the class "Designing the Post-Natural" taught by Tega Brain. The project's brief is as follows:
Internet companies regularly talk of the ‘attention economy’, a concept that frames human attention as a scarce commodity for which they are always competing. In this semester-long assignment, you are to reclaim a small portion of your weekly attention and practice what Anna Tsing calls the ‘arts of noticing’ by regularly observing another life form or ecosystem.
Choose either a species that lives in New York (a plant, animal, insect, fungi etc.), preferably one that you don’t know much about, or an ecosystem such as a stretch of canal or an empty lot. You must choose a species/ecosystem that you can observe from time to time (at least weekly). For this assignment you are to visit your chosen entity, and make observations for a period of at least 20 minutes, at least once per week. When you do this, you are to put your phone in aeroplane mode or leave it at home.
The beach is located in what’s left of the Pier 4. It has two shores, a bigger and a smaller one in front. These are separated by the Bird Island which has “salt-tolerant shrubs, grasses and trees to encourage the growth of a diverse ecology” and it’s out of bounds. You can’t swim, wade or climb the rocks that surround the beach. Just launch non motorized floating devices such as paddles, kayaks, etc.
This place called my attention because in my experience, beaches are exclusively something found naturally in a much bigger scale than what google maps calls this piece of yellow area, a beach.
As I was understanding the concept of Post Naturalism, it occurred to me that this beach would be a good example of this concept.