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— urbantick

Book – Insular Insight

In many ways cities are developing a pressurised and highly specialised environment in large areas driven by competition. It is buzzing environment defined by constant change at fast pace where everyone who slows down risks to drop through the loopholes in the system.

For this is an extreme and very narrow view of urbanised places it describes an image cities have fostered for years in order to compete and grow at such a rate they don’t recognise themselves. It os attractive and offeres opportunities, however only really works as a concept if there is an opposite pole it can be balanced with.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, view of the islands.

The countryside is fading away in such a role as balancing pole due to many and complex interwoven reasons, mainly economical ones. However, the slowness creating a relaxed atmosphere of rural areas is inspiring to a number of projects and visions recently. The villages and the traditions are not forgotten, they still have their power and intensity if we only pause and look, stop and experience.

Insular Insight: Where Art and architecture Conspire with Nature is a Lars Muller Publication, edited by Lars Muller and Akiko Miki in collaboration with Hiroshi Kagayama on a large scale project to develop such a thing as public capitalism or an investment in culture.

The book documents the project developed by Soichiro Fukutake, a Japanese businessman who invested in art and he community on islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan, bringing the place, the art and architecture together to shape an spirit and way of life. He believed contemporary art to be the best way to inspire people and transform an area.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, inside the Teshima Art Museum.

In various projects with renown international artists and architects a series of instaations permanent and temporary have been built in the ast on the Setouchi islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea. Contributing artists and architects include James Turrell, Tatsuao Miyajima, Tadao Ando, Rai Nito, Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA and many more. Many of the works are set as art houses where artists and architects have actually worked together to create permanent locations for installations. Then there are aso larger infrastructural buildings such a port terminals and museums buit as part of the investment.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, artwork ‘The Secret of the Sky’ van Kan Yasuda.

These infrastructures are essential to the change the efforts have brought about the islands. The project has lead to a dramatic increase of visitors to the islands. In the past twenty years the number of guests has increased from about 20’000 to over 620’000 a year. economically this is a very big change, but definitely this is also a turning point for culture and especially society on the smal islands.

This is of course seemingly pushing in the same direction as any city does with unconditional aspiration for growth and change. However, at the hart of this project lies the desire to conspire with nature and this book is a manifesto for it. It offers more than just a documentation or a catalogue of the realised projects, but is a discussion and presentation with background and contextual details. Renown writers such a Peter Sloterdjik, Nayan Chanda or Eva Blau contribute essays to this discussion the founder Sochiro Fukutake want to be carried out into the word. A manifesto for stillness and slowness.

Insular Insight
Image taken from fontanel / Book cover.

Muller, L. & Miki, A., 2011. Insular Insight: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.