GeneralElectric recently signed a commitment to begin (in May 2006) dredging the Hudson River in a controversial attempt to remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) they dumped for years in the upper Hudson, making it the largest Superfund site in the country. Eating fish from the Hudson has been banned since the seventies. However, during the 30-year campaign that has led to the signed agreement, the river has been recovering. PCB levels have drastically declined through a combination of settling deep into the under silt, dispersion through hydro and chemical mechanisms, and diffusion through the food chain. Hudson fish and animal populations are recovering as a result. This provides a timely opportunity to represent the underbelly of the Hudson, to demonstrate the presence of other organisms who live in Manhattan; an opportunity (or baseline) to educate the humans and fish before a series of significant ecological changes that will accompany the dredging.
The new Hudson River school demonstrates a change from the well-known HRS 1.0 whose characteristic celebration of the local natural systems produced vistas in softly colored lighting and visual experiments of the effects of light on water and sky. This new version of the Hudson River School 2.0 represents natural systems in which we are enmeshed. That is, each time we drive down that West Side highway the particulate matter and VOCs emissions we generate dissolve into the water; each time we flush the toilet our antidepressants make their way through the water treatment systems, bioacculmulating in frogs and medicating their interdependent species. The new HRS will develop further interactions that rescript our attention and relationship to these systems - interactions that are deliberate, reciprocal and potentially remediative.