China’s Lost Lakes Aren’t Made of Water – Giant Mirrors Reflect on the City

china's lost lakes

china's lost lakes

I think these photos of China’s Lost Lakes art installation are incredibly beautiful, but what I found most arresting is the message that these liquid-like pools of glass are meant to display. For most of us, going on vacation or traveling a bit of distance will bring us to a lake; we swim, we fish, we pass them on the train, we hike around them and go camping next to them. But what if the lakes that likely make up a number of your cherished outdoor memories dried up and disappeared? China has seen over 240 lakes disappear over the last 40 years. Many people in the city of Beijing have never seen one.

China’s Lost Lakes Reappear as Sheets of Mirror Reflecting the Progress that Destroyed Them

It’s easy to see an art installation with pointed commentary like China’s Lost Lakes, and think, “Serves them right” as you plan your summer vacation to a glassy smooth lake with never-ending vista of reflected clouds. How can you explain the feeling of absolute joy and satisfaction that washes over you when you get up at dawn and relax by a perfect body of water as the sun rises? How could you explain the significance of that view, of that feeling, to someone who’s never experienced it- and more importantly, most likely never will? I suppose it’s even easier to forget we’re fucking up the planet at an alarming rate when you can caper about an imitation lake right in the middle of the city without ever getting your leather loafers wet, but I personally think that this whole project makes it pretty apparent that something as “simple” as a large, reflective body of water is an important and precious thing.

china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection china's lost lakes mirror art installation city reflection

China has faced water shortages due to heavy expansion, over-population, and the climate change that goes hand-in-hand with extensive pollution. By enticing people to slow down to appreciate the form and reflection in each of these giant, modular mirrors, they’re bringing some of the beauty of China’s lost lakes back into Beijing (albeit with seemingly innocent puddles of glass that will likely instantaneously burn out the retinas of anyone in a two block radius on a very bright day.) So if you’re making a trip this weekend, why not head out and enjoy a lake near you?

[Photos by Weijun Lin]

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