Of Other Spaces: The Undocumented Anomalies of Hashima

2023, D5

Kelly Ting. 

Tutors: Holly Xie.  

As a ruin, architecture is more, not less. Hashima Island, once a thriving metropolis with the world’s highest population density, is now of decaying buildings and crumbling walls. This weirdly picturesque man-made artificial island guards the entrance to Nagasaki Harbour like a strange, dead lighthouse with nature slowly reclaiming the island.

Following the inscription as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015, the 5% of the island accessible to tourists is endangered from over photographing and excessive media exposures. This project seeks to question the effects of modern tourism, in particular ‘ruin pornography’ by attending to the ‘other’ unexploited 95% of the island.

Adopting the thinking of Situationist International – derive and accidental encounters, one’s experience is led by curiosity, emotion and chance. The importance of pacing and unplanned routes to further celebrate the ruination and gentrification of the island.

In addition, drawing from Foucault’s idea of heterotopia, through small scale interventions in the form of anomalies in the landscape, ruins are the architectural equivalent of the syntactical anacoluthon, calling for further reading. Rather than adding or subtracting, the focus is on preserving the existing concrete architecture. Whether it’s staying overnight in the vending machine controlled cabins, meandering through the stepped vertical landscape, kayaking amongst the foundational piles or traversing down the edge of the island – within the sea wall, they become containers to record and stages for further imaginings. Inciting various ambiances steered by activities and contextual factors that oscillates between the reverie and an awareness of the temporal environment.

The agency of mapping with the flexible employment of cartographic techniques and superimposition of drawings at different scales, welcomes an explorative performance, discovering new potentials of ‘the other’ within the past and present. Furthermore, the process of casting initiates a dialogue between the tangible and the tactile as well as the paradoxes between haptic and thresholds. The mould, the recognisable object which the work seems to be about, is lost. What’s left is a residue, a space of oscillation between presence and absence. An unimagined beauty that engages with the ghost, the lost and the relics of Hashima.