What happens when we shut up a river mouth? How do we shape a body of water?

With man-made changes to Santa Cruz’s coast since five decades ago, the sands shifted and persistently caused the San Lorenzo River mouth to close. When the river becomes a lagoon, the water level rises and eventually causes a lagoon breach that is dangerous to both humans and nonhumans (such as endangered fish).

The recent San Lorenzo River Lagoon Culvert Project hopes to reduce these breaches by regulating the water height of the lagoon. Throughout the process of this infrastructural project to control the flow of water, what were the human marks made on the land? Today, these traces of the multi-million dollar construction can be hardly seen except for the culvert.

People’s attempts to alter landscapes and tame water have often caused a ripple effect elsewhere. Dams. Aquifers. Pipes. Canals. Culverts. What will be the next intervention to this place where the river meets the sea?


The project was exhibited at Gravy Gallery (Santa Cruz). Installation images below:

Sandcastles, 2022
Photographic prints. text
Dimensions variable

2024 © Lee Chang Ming