About Boston Coastline Future Past

Boston Coastline Future Past is a “walking data visualization” led by Catherine D'Ignazio and Andi Sutton in which 30 participants traced a route from the Climate Change prediction of the city’s coastline to its history, as a way of physically understanding the future and past of a city changing at scales that are difficult to see and comprehend.

These virtual coastlines – prior to the land being filled in and post-Climate Change -- are more similar than you might expect. Along the way, participants wear stencils with messages of fear and hope, listen to micro-lectures from civic leaders about Boston’s past and future, and engage in a participatory graffiti project at the end of the event.

This walk was produced in conjunction with the Decordova Museum’s Walking Sculpture exhibition, and featured several guest speakers–performance artists, scientific experts and policy makers who represent the future and the past. The stencils that people wore during the walk and used in the project are the contribution of artist Andi Sutton.

  • A walking data visualization connecting the past and future coastlines of Boston
  • Catherine D'Ignazio, Assistant Professor of Civic Media & Data Visualization, Emerson College
  • Andi Sutton, Performance Artist and Program Manager, Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies, MIT
  • "We walked, we paused. We walked, we paused."
  • "The city’s televisual imagination is being challenged by rising tides, a shoreline obstinately asserting itself irrespective of the will of engineers." - Eric Gordon
  • "Now that you have worn your messages of fear and hope for the future, we will imprint them on the ground for others to read. Lay them down in order to form a timeline of the future." - Andi Sutton

Eric Gordon

Emerson College, Director of the Engagement Lab

Brian Swett

Former Boston Chief of Energy, Environment, and Open Space

Vivien Li

President, The Boston Harbor Association

Andi Sutton

An artist whose practice explores the ways that performance art methodology can create new models for community development