One of the many enduring reminders of the coronavirus pandemic is the sight of used, discarded masks littering public spaces. Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi of New York City’s SLO Architecture have taken on the idea of unearthing the discarded in “Turntable,” a public installation at Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park in Camden, N.J., that turns face masks and plastic bottles into a wind-powered beacon.
“Turntable” recalls Camden’s lost history—the city was home to the Victor Talking Machine Co., which became RCA Victor (today’s RCA Records). It’s said that many of the company’s original vinyls from its Cooper Street warehouse were dumped at the park shoreline in 1971.
The installation uses wind energy captured by thousands of cut two-liter soda bottles, spinning a cylinder above a circular colonnade. Inside, a lightweight dome of three-ply polypropylene masks, with an oculus open to the sky, forms a space to contemplate the cycles of Camden’s history as the city comes together again post-pandemic. According to the artists, by using everyday plastics held individually in the hand or worn on the body and then thrown out, the installation “redefines the discarded as a latent collective material to harness Camden’s potential energy ahead.”
“Turntable” was commissioned for A New View, an initiative of Camden’s Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, which is transforming six highly visible spaces along the city’s public transportation corridors from eyesores used for illegal dumping into multipurpose community forums. These converted spaces are hosting dynamic temporary installations and creative programming through October 2021.