using the forms of the diminishing geography of the world’s watersheds, american artist and architect maya lin has created a series of sculptural maps and drawings that seek to translate enormous natural phenomena into a relatable scale. the use of a single material in these visualized topographies helps to abstract complex, scientific data points into marble, wood, silver and steel ideas of information. what begins as a rational translation becomes streamlined forms that are both faithful to the essence of the landscape and transcendent in the their materialization of unseen surfaces.

maya lin pace gallery
‘here and there’ by maya lin, pace gallery, london
image © designboom (also main image)



the series is divided by material. in ‘pin rivers and silver rivers’ the wall is used to map aerial views of waterways using either recycled silver or steel pins. the method allows for viewers to understand the bodies of water as whole, formal systems with interconnected shapes and far reaching fingers. on wooden pedestals, marble is carved to represent diminishing bodies of water over time. maya lin pace gallery
lin uses pins to map critical bodies of water so as to emphasize their dimishing dynamism
image © designboom



the topographic layers of lake chad, the aral sea and the arctic ice mass are rendered cold, stepped surfaces and map the terrifying changes in the landscape. the scale of the works allows viewers to internalize the information, however beautiful, present in the careful three dimensional maps. the sections of terrain in ‘greenwich mean time’ represent a cartographic section of the prime meridian and continue the confluence of scientific data abstracted by the human hand.