Artist William Miller’s photos may look like beautiful artistic abstractions, but the flowing lines and iridescent specks are actually close-ups of Brooklyn's heavily polluted Gowanus Canal. A closer look reveals the grim details of the sludgy waterway - bits of garbage, pools of oil and even the corpse of a rodent floating in the infamously mucky waterway .
Miller finds the murky waters of the Gowanus to be inspiring and darkly beautiful. Only in art can the clouds of chemicals translate to graceful forms, with deposits of polluted sediment peppering the picture plane with pattern and swirls of oil. The photographer treats each element of the canal’s vast mire as a different fragment of artistic medium, translating floating ropes, plastic bits and debris as figurative pencils on his photographic canvas.
Miller has been shooting the polluted waters of the Gowanus for two years, not just to take beautifully abstract photographs, but also to document the remnants of two centuries of chemical dumping into the waterway. Since the tanneries, coal yards and factories of the Industrial Revolution, the Gowanus has been subject to a myriad of pollutants, causing the marine and plant life of the region to decline or mutate due to severe contamination.
Miller’s work puts the heavily damaged waterway into a new light, tricking the viewer into taking a closer look at the components of the waters’ gruesome contents by betraying them with the glimmer of a rainbow starburst of the canal’s oil slick.