Edible Future

Project

Food in Japanese culture is both central, and highly valued. Products like Wagyu Beef, Tuna and Matsutake mushrooms can often command seemingly obscene price levels both in Japan and abroad. Yet these days, more than 70% of the country’s food is imported from the US, China and Europe. For some, this is a cultural crisis. For others, it is a national security risk.

In the extreme condition of the “compact city” policy proposed by Japan’s government, the country’s remaining populations will move to only 3 mega cities—Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya. In turn, because of the massive amount of land that has become de-urbanized, Japan will be able to produce and export their well-known luxury food within this massive amount of vacant land.

This project endeavors to visualize the relationship between people, nature and mechanized luxury agriculture.

Interview

Who influences you graphically?

Shohei Otomo, Japanese artist, creatively using manga to address contemporary Japan social phenomenon. His graphic is combination of tradition and modern, elegance and vulgarity, full of strong contrast and interesting juxtaposition.

Graphic reference also includes Wes Jones’ work and UCL Bartlett CJ Lim Studio work.

Also affected by scenes in Movie Inception and Doctor Strange, when space collapse, you can see view, plan, elevation in the same frame.

What prompted the project?

Our topic was the future of the landscape of Tokyo where we sought to explore the relationship between automation, efficiency and human in future Japan.

The Project started with the government’s planning proposal for a“Compact City”, a general concept which includes no geographic nor spacial characteristic, under a circumstance that the population of the metropolitan area of Tokyo is forecast to fall by over 1/3 over the next 50 years.

The Japanese government aims that cities will shrink efficiently under rational control rather than shrinking autonomously. I was interested in the new social and spacial form which arises from the concept of the compact city. What will happen with the left-over land and in the city? Does that mean a dystopia or actually a development in the right direction towards a more efficient Japan? As a result I start drawing different maps of the “Compact City” and eventually visualises  2 different models; linear & islands.

Existing Map of Tokyo

Linear City

Island City

What is your take on colour_ what defines the absence/presence of this within your drawings?

The aim was to try and replicate the mechanic architecture drawing style of the 90s by using a combination of black, white, red, in order to depict an automated, efficient future.

The core “object” in the drawing defines these differences. In the first series of drawings, “linear city”, a scenario where everyone resides and works along the red “pipe” is depicted where the colour red is used to highlight different typologies of “pipe”. In the second series of drawings, “island city”, a scenario which features large differences between what is in and out of the boundary is portrayed, here so different densities of lines and different pattern are used to illustrate this relationship interior vs exterior relationship.

What was your work process in terms of project development and production of images?

We were asked to think whilst producing. Here I quote a sentence from the syllabus: “You think through making and experimentation (drawing, modeling, photographic, collaging, etc), rather than trying to figure out the way forward in your head (or in self-oriented text and notes)”

Instead of structuring the entire project and using the drawing as mere tool of representation, the drawings were used as primary tool through which I articulated and developed the project. The project went from a moment where I visualised the idea—the idea was refined to the be visualised once again. At the very start all that I was keen on was of exploring this threshold between technology and humanity, as such I drew the elevated “Hyperloop style” railway, robotic arm in a ramen restaurant, circular and automated farmland as first possible scenario of Japanese landscape future. Later I synthesised these elements and eventually found my way to the final product: Edible future.

How important where the montages as process images? What role did these play?

The montages were used through the process of exploration of possible future scenarios. These are not in the big picture of Edible Future, but a different attempt in trying to explore the threshold of future island city and the differences between in and out.

Are you interested in exploring this speculation further?

Yes, but in a more cautious way. In many reviews the panel questioned the failure within many contexts of the mega structures typology raising the question of why it would work this time round. For me the transition between the current Japan and a super automated Japan has not yet been illustrated clearly.

Where do you see the future of these three mega cities- how sustainable is this super urban scenario?

I don’t think these kinds of mega structure will be built in a near future. What I was aiming for wasmore to provide one scenario, that would invite the public to imagine the implications of a “compact city” .

There is always an ultimate dream with regards to robot sand automation. Luxury food in Japan, like Wagyu beef, Tuna and Matsutake are always depicted as hand-made, well handled, we appreciate these high-quality products but also try to replicate them whilst  merchandising them somewhere else (Australia has already established their own Wagyu beef business association). Large amounst of land in the tendency of depopulation, advanced technology, super obsessive food culture makes Japan a good test-out place for this automated luxury agriculture scenario.

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