Miranda-Max de Beer

Beyond the Lines

Long-held frameworks developed over human history have rarely accounted for dynamic flux or shifts between parallel states of being; they’ve ignored the glaring consequences that humanity’s brief occupation of the geologic timeline will have on the planet. They’ve also enabled societies to live like there’s no tomorrow, (ab)using the Earth without considering those who’ll eventually reap what’s sown. Beyond the Lines identifies manifestations of the mindset that restricts how we understand living systems and the world around us. Investigation centers on Iceland, the only place on the planet where the birth of new landscapes converges above the ocean's surface, providing an opportunity to study operating in an area knowing that natural processes constantly challenge the human desire for simple, controlled delineation. Beyond the Lines asks readers to interrogate constraints long-bred into how humanity thinks about and designs for site and transform them into methods that are conscious in approach and considerate of hidden multifaceted histories. 


Earth is billions of years old. Of the billions of people who used to, currently, or will inhabit it, no one will be alive for more than a fraction of those billions of years. Organic beings–people, animals, plants–live in the realm of Biologic Time. Biologic Time is different for every class of organism and so can span mere hours or thousands of years. The rest of Earth–the literal foundation upon which we all live–follows the clock of Geologic Time, which has a wider range than the realm of Biologic Time. A fault might take a millionth of a second to rupture, but it took millions of years for it to reach that point.

We are entering an age where humanity is becoming its own geologic force, where the boundaries between “man-amorphic” and metamorphic are becoming ever hazier.


The disparity between Biologic and Geologic Times might lead one to assume that the two run along parallel tracks within sight of each other, never to intersect. Yet, the mind-boggling amount of time that the Earth experienced without the presence of any biological life was the very reason that biological life was able to take root in the first place. Biologic Time owes its existence to Geologic Time and lived in harmony with it until human civilization reached a point where amassing wealth and obtaining superficial status symbols became the driving cultural narrative.


An epoxy and rope sculpture from two angles.

A failed attempt to model suspended animation is actually an allegory of the semi-fluid/semi-solid nature of the Earth’s mantle.


In 2023, the world faces an inevitable climate disaster, emphasizing that the time to act was decades ago. Those of us left to pick up the pieces will have to aid in the effort to redesign the overarching cultural narrative that humanity is separate from the rest of Earth’s natural systems. Understanding and analyzing our past, present, and future impacts will be at the core of decision-making processes.


Iceland is the only place on Earth where one can walk across a bridge between two tectonic plates. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a scar that traverses the Atlantic Ocean, slowly pushes the North American and Eurasian plates apart, a cog in a grander machinery akin to a living being; the lifeforce of the Earth.


Bathymetric and countour lines of Iceland.

What are shorelines but socially-constructed boundaries? The behavior of the water does not solely influence what is or is not deemed to be land, sea, or somewhere in between.


How can Icelandic philosophies and shared cultural narratives inform the design for a site that is celebrating the dynamics of Earth’s long- and short-term change(s)? In other words, how can we learn to mourn loss while embracing the change that comes with it?


A transect of Reykjavik, Iceland analyzed for network connectivity (hydrology + transportation).

Methods of analyzing hidden currents and patterns that lie beneath Reykjavik, Iceland.


Textural model of land cover in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Textural study of the ground in the greater Reykjavik area.

Site change over time; is this land breathing?


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