In the Map: Maya Lin’s Blue Lake Pass

Miriam Stanton, Interim Assistant Curator gave a presentation and participated in the panel discussion, Mapping Spaces: Cartographic Practices in Art and Architecture, Part I at the 2013 College Art Association Conference in New York City last week.

Miriam Stanton at CAA 2013

In the Map: Maya Lin’s Blue Lake Pass
—Miriam Ashkin Stanton, Williams College Museum of Art

Maya Lin’s Blue Lake Pass is a physical construction of a mental construct—a volumetric topographic map, incised and pulled apart at its gridded seams. To date, analyses of this work have inaccurately conflated map and terrain, claiming that Blue Lake Pass captures the sensation of traversing the inside of the earth. Instead, the installation renders cartographic practice visible. More than viewers, we become participants—enacting the map’s method of producing meaning. We experience an amalgam of angles and scales, a shifting of proportions and perspectives. Investigating this reification of a cartographic process, this paper considers the significance of physical and perceptual relationships to place—positing that it is sometimes by way of a conceptual schema that we connect most to our surroundings. By embodying a topographic map, we comprehend cartography not as a removed, sterile system but as a phenomenologically felt experience.

Maya Lin, Blue Lake Pass

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