Besides anagrams and pizza, I also have a keen interest in digital fabrication and maps. "Below the Boat" is a new company that combines the latter two: besides lakes, the site also offers laser-cut visualizations of bodies of water from archipelagos and bays to shorelines and sounds.Starting with a bathymetric chart (the underwater equivalent of a topographic map), the contours are laser-cut into sheets of Baltic birch and glued together to create a powerful visual depth. Select layers are hand-colored blue so it's easy to discern land from water, major byways are etched into the land, the whole thing's framed in a custom, solid-wood frame and protected seamlessly with a sheet of durable, ultra-transparent Plexiglas.
The result is stunning. It lifts the surface of the water back like a veil, exposing the often-overlooked, under-explored, awe-inspiring world that lies below. To those familiar with the floor of the ocean or the bed of a lake, it's a beautiful reminder of the deep channels, sharp drop-offs, and mountainous landscapes that are hidden from normal view. To the uninitiated, it's wonderfully eye-opening; as though the world suddenly took on a fourth dimension.
Below the Boat is the brainchild of Robbie and Kara Johnson, a husband-wife duo from Bellingham, WA, who came across one of the charts while traveling in Michigan and set out to bring the digitally-fabricated artwork to the masses via webshop.
As you can see, the results are absolutely amazing—etched in memory, as it were—and I daresay that even the most hydrophobic landlubber can appreciate the beauty of bathymetry in burned in baltic birch by laserbeam.
Current offerings include charts of a few major coastal conurbations, as well as nostalgic Northern lakes and island destinations.