The Lake Project


More aerial photographs by David Maisel, this time of California’s Owens Lake. But I’m totally addicted. I can’t even believe how beautiful his images are.


As Maisel himself explains: “Beginning in 1913, the Owens River was diverted into the Owens Valley Aqueduct to bring water to Los Angeles. By 1926, the lake had been depleted, exposing vast mineral flats.” (For any film buffs out there, this is the same hydro-political event that inspired Roman Polanski’s Chinatown).


“For decades,” Maisel continues, “fierce winds have dislodged microscopic particles from the lakebed, creating carcinogenic dust storms. The lakebed has become the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States, emitting some 300,000 tons annually of cadmium, chromium, arsenic, and other materials.”


At this point, the “concentration of minerals in the remaining water of Owens Lake is so artificially high that blooms of microscopic bacterial organisms result, turning the liquid a deep, bloody red. Viewed from the air, vestiges of the lake appear as a river of blood, a microchip, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map. It is this contemporary version of the sublime that I find compelling.”

(Read more at The Lake Project; and you can search Maisel’s work – then give him a grant or something – on his website; see also BLDGBLOG’s Terminal Lake and Silt).

5 thoughts on “The Lake Project”

  1. Rather than abstract paintings, some of the above look like large scale graphic sections through strata of rock etc. My partner mocked up such a thing when trying to describe the various mineral make-ups of a site in east london.

    I like it when things change their aspect or projection at different scales: plan switching to section or vice versa.

  2. David, have you seen this post? It’s about rock sections. Being made into a film. Rock as film-still. Inspired by Stan Brakhage.

    Also, for the geological make-up of London, check out this post, which is about the BBC’s Walks With Rocks, “an exploration of Urban Geology.” (Links included).

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