Six Feet Under #1: Boston

Seasoned lurker here, but don’t get me wrong; I love this community and I’ve learned so much from you. I finally have something I’m really proud of that’s made out of Proofgrade materials, so I wanted to share it. It’s the first in a series called Six Feet Under in which I’m visualizing a worst-case scenario sea-level rise by 2100 in American cities. This is Boston. The light blue is the original/current coastline and shows the projected inundated vs. dry areas.

Last summer, I was playing with NOAA’s sea-level rise viewer and turned it all the way up. I was shocked at the potential devastation and wanted to make art about it, then thought wait… this seems improbable and alarmists get dismissed. So I researched feasible worst-case scenarios from sources such as the UN, Nature Communications, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and 2 m by 2100 is within the realm of possibility.

However, the GIS data from NOAA are only available in whole-foot increments so I rounded down to be conservative. Annnd I only make bad jokes, hence the title of the series. Once I had my number I poked around the coast and chose cities where the loss felt like a punch in the gut. While there are a number of digital avenues I considered to communicate this, I thought laser-cut maps were the best way to go. They’re nostalgic and tangible so I wanted to play off of that.

I had to seriously clean up the data in Illustrator to make them laser-friendly and chose my scale and level of detail based off of what wouldn’t fall through the crumb tray immediately, wouldn’t get burnt to a crisp, and wouldn’t be too fragile to handle. If you’re familiar with the city you’ll see I excluded most of the bridges as the interactive portrayed them as inundated. I also did not research elevation for bridges, ramps, and overpasses, but instead treated all roads as if they were at ground level.

I have juuust enough plywood to do Charleston next in this style since it’s sold out for the moment, then I think I’ll move onto other techniques unless it gets back in stock. And if it helps anyone, I framed it with Tru Vue Optium museum acrylic, it’s pretty incredible stuff and most of the time you can’t tell its there at all so the depth gets preserved without glare.


While alarming and sad, this an absolute great way to show it! Thanks for your narrative as well. You clearly put a lot of effort and thinking in this project.


Thanks! I appreciate that.


Outstanding. This should be required reading.


This is beautiful, instructive, and sobering. Thank you for sharing! Are you planning an eventual exhibit or anything?

Love that dirty water!


With any luck, I’ll be giving a talk about it at a cartography conference later this year. Maybe if I wind up with enough of these I could do an exhibit at some point!


Impressive work.


Those look great!!! Nice work!


Beautiful, and “oh crap!” inspiring!


Thank you for this enlightening work.


This is brilliant. I set of these of major cities could go on tour. You could get them into a museum or three.

Getting this kind of info over is quite hard - this combines both an effective way of showing data and is interesting enough to look at as well.

Very impressive.


post it on the Glowforge Official User Facebook Group

@maneatingflower congratulations on your initiative to convey in a clear and blunt form the very true risks of global warming and sea level rise.

Your work is stunning as it is beautiful; and you humor adds to the impact of your work. I hope this would be only a bad joke, but it is very real.

Beautifully done and a great idea to focus attention on climate change.

@reynoso @Yogi_Bear thanks! I’m actually about to submit the whole series to a call for entry on climate change. It’s been about a decade since I’ve had anything in a gallery so I’m crossing my fingers.


Wish you the best. I am sure folks will appreciate your art work!

@maneatingflower please do send pictures of the whole series. Thanks.

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As relevant as ever. #necrogame