Video artist Roderick Coover uses a camera and a kayak to explore the effects of rising sea levels.

By Jennifer Dionisio | August 23, 2013

Video artist Roderick Coover first kayaked along the Delaware River in early 2011. For the next two years he shot photos and video from his kayak and from the riverbank as part of his research on the potential impact of rising sea levels on shorelines and flood zones. How, he wondered, would local landscapes be altered by flooding, salination, and pollution?


Roderick Coover explores how local landscapes will be altered by climate change.

Roderick Coover explores how local landscapes will be altered by climate change.

Roderick Coover

Then in the spring of 2012 Coover came across studies on the effects of sea-level rise on the shorelines of Kent, a county in southeastern England. Coover, who had grown up in a coastal village there, traveled to England to document the flood zones of the English Channel and the Thames Estuary. His time exploring English and American shores inspired his book and film installation for the Museum at CHF’s exhibit Sensing Change. His videos combine live footage, layered images of maps, and text created with author Scott Rettberg. This work imaginatively examines the effect of floods on people’s lives in a fictionalized near future.

Coover’s project reflects his fascination with the abandoned sites and structures that dot riverbanks like gravestones marking the demise of the area’s industrial pursuits. The Delaware and Thames riverbanks hold only a few of the many areas around the world in danger of being lost. “The village where I grew up is likely to disappear,” says Coover. “So it’s a provocative double story—the impact of sea-level change as well as part of my memory being washed away by the passing of time.

Roderick Coover’s book Estuary and video Toxi•City will be on display as part of the new exhibit Sensing Change, opening in July at the Museum at CHF.