New View-Camden Fights Illegal Dumping With Robots and Other Art Works

Robot sculpture Mechan 11 is fighting illegal dumpers in North Camden
Made of industrial junk gathered from the area it now towers over, the 17-foot-high Mechan 11: The Collector robot is the work of Tyler FuQua Creations.

On one hand, the New View-Camden exhibit is about massive and visually stunning works of art while, on the other, it’s about some of the most expensive “no dumping” signs ever conceived. Above, the 17-foot-high robot, Mechan 11: The Collector, is one of six huge artworks installed across the city as part of a program designed to deter illegal dumpers who jettison tons of construction and demolition debris in Camden’s vacant lots.

A better understanding of the scope and profitability of these criminal dumping activities can be found in the fact that the city of Camden spends $4 million annually to clean up and legally dispose of the industrial debris that blights its neighborhoods.

The idea to turn some of the city’s most notorious bootleg dumping grounds into art venues was the brainchild of a consortium composed of officials from the City, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, and the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. Their proposal was selected out of 200 submitted to a philanthropic organization created by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that provides grants for temporary urban exhibits that address civic issues with public art.

Funded with a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, New View-Camden kicked off on Earth Day 2021 and will run for six months. It criss-crosses the city with six massive sculptural projects, along with pod parks for picnics, little free library sites, small playgrounds, photo projects, and other art-related events and programming.

A 17-foot-high robot sculpture collects industrial trash as part of the New View-Camden program
New View-Camden’s iron-boned Mechan 11 bot at E. State Street and Centennial Drive carries a mesh cable bag holding battered metal and plastic junk, including a hot water heater. Mechan’s spear-like tool is jabbed through a discarded washing machine.
Sprawled on a former illegal dumping site is New View-Camden's 36-foot metal sculpture of a panther called Invincible Cat.
Shaped from the steel of nearly six dozen junk car hoods, the Invincible Cat weighs seven tons and stretches 36 feet from the tip of the nose to the end of its tail. Created by DKLA Design, the metal panther situated on a vacant lot at 1489 Pershing St., next to the PATCO High Speed Line tracks is seven feet high — from the ground to the tips of its ears.
One of New View-Camden's strangest displays features worms that eat styrofoam. It's called the Bio-Informatic Digester.
Terreform One‘s Bio-Informatic Digester is based on the fact that mealworms have the curious ability to eat and digest the chemical compound polystyrene — better known as styrofoam. The idea is for people to throw in their styrofoam trash and return from time to time to the Chestnut and Orchard Streets location to watch it slowly degrade into worm poop.
Powered by plastic bottle scoops that catch the wind, the Turntable sculpture sits next to the Ben Franklin Bridge.
SLO Architecture‘s Turntable structure at Cooper’s Poynt Park on Delaware Avenue at the Ben Franklin Bridge does just that. The New View-Camden sculpture is turned by the wind coming off the river.
New View-Camden sculpture uses thousands of scoop-shaped plastic bottles to catch the wind.
Turntable’s outer surface is made up of thousands of clear plastic bottles cut into “scoops” that catch the wind across the New View-Camden site.
Blue medical face masks are used to create a huge mosaic lit by the sun in a Camden, NJ exhibit.
Turntable invites you to enter and, looking up, see a colorful matrix of blue medical face masks — an artistic nod to the current pandemic.
One of the 25-foot-high phoenix sculptures made of bent wood and bamboo in Camden. It's called Phoenix Festival.
Along a gritty abandoned industrial area along Federal Street as it passes over the Cooper River, motorists encounter a soaring, 25-foot-high set of bent bamboo and wood strip sculptures called Phoenix Festival.
Standing guard at a former illegal dump site are two 25-foot-high phoenix sculptures that are part of New View-Camden. The site is called Phoenix Festival.
Created by the Mythmakers agency, the gigantic New View-Camden bird sculptures change the feeling of the place from that of a barren lot to a local park.
Touching the Earth is a new mini park at Fifth and Eries Streets in Camden by Athena Steen and Josh Sarantitis.
The New View-Camden Touching the Earth site at Fifth and Erie Streets is a sculpture park in the midst of a dense neighborhood. Artist Athena Steen is nationally renowned for her clay, straw and wood structures, and Josh Sarantitis for his mural art. Included are three large abstract sculptures, flower planters, and a circular gathering spot with benches around a wood-fired picnic pizza oven.
Athena Steen's abstract sculpture is made of clay and straw.
The clay and straw sculptures defining the outer boundaries of Touching the Earth park face out in one direction against abandoned houses around the former illegal dumping site.
The third and final (still drying) sculpture in Touching the Earth park is this one.
The last of the three Athena Steen clay and straw sculptures shown just after its completion. It was still drying.