New York Under Water

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad?

Studio Lindfors

In his new book, "Our Choice" Al Gore claims that the average carbon footprint of a city dweller is less than half of those who live outside cities. But before you pat yourself on the back, adjust the basket on your cruiser and head down to the farmer's market to buy some organic celery root, consider the possibility that all that green living turned out to be not good enough. What if the ice caps do in fact melt? What will our fine city look like?

The architectural and design firm Studio Lindfors asked themselves that very question and the answer was: maybe not so bad. "Aqualta," a photo series that depicts New York City after a flood, "joins the ever-present climate change dialogue," says Gretchen Stump of Lindfors. But instead of showing people standing on rooftops waiving Help Me banners or cannibalizing each other, the images are lush and serene: gondolas drift through Times Square a la Venice; children fish from manmade abuttments and swim with their dogs; canoes float through seaweed down Fifth Avenue. The images, which are pieced together from their own as well as found materials, are "a look at adapting to rising water rather than fighting or resisting it," says Stump.

First revealed on BLDGBLG--a website dedicated to architectural conjecture, urban speculation and landscape futures--the project coincides with the release of Brooklyn-based DJ/Rupture's new album Solar Life Raft, which imagines, through sound, what a drowned New York would be like.

In an interview with New York Magazine, Rupture says of the album: "It sort of paints a picture of New York 40 years in the future, where the water line is at the fourth story of buildings and the rich people are dry in the Catskills. Kids are making music on their cell phones and grilling octopi. So, it’s postapocalyptic, but not necessarily grim."

This isn't the first alternative future Studio Lindfors has imagined. For the "What if... New York City," a 2008 design competition for post-disaster provisional housing, their Cloud City suggested inflatable homes that, tethered to rooftops, would give New Yorkers safe, private places to live while the city was rebuilt.

It is comforting to know that if scientists can't save us, maybe artists will.

For more imaginative renderings and conversation, be sure to check out Global Warming: Artists on Climate Change series taking place at BAM on December 5.

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