Floating Island

Floating Island is a sculpture with a surface area of 30 square metres that will be installed on the sea in front of Rauma. As the title implies, it is shaped like an island that floats on water. It differs from natural islands in that it is made of partly different materials, and it is a human construct that imitates nature.

Islands are fascinating ecosystems bounded by their shoreline. They are miniature worlds, each with its own distinguishing features. An island in the sea is also the setting in many myths and stories, from the Atlantis to the island of the Sirens and from the desert island in Lord of the Flies to Vaiana in Polynesia. And there are of course countless real islands with historical events taking place there.

Islands fire up the imagination, perhaps in part by their isolation, their inaccessibility and their variety of vegetation, animal life and surface contours. I am personally fascinated by the individuality of islands, their aesthetic and their titillating mystique. You never know what you can find on an unknown island. 

Humanity has been changing its environment for thousands of years at ever increasing pace and volume. Today there is hardly any place on earth untouched by the direct or indirect impact of human activity. People have built floating, island-like structures for centuries if not longer. A famous example is the floating islands of the indigenous Uru people on Lake Titicaca. However, natural floating islands can also be found all over the world. Often made up of pumice stone and vegetation, they can float on the water for years, even decades.

Islands were among the first inanimate victims of climate catastrophe. The rising sea level has made drowning islands a highly visible example of the reality of climate change.

Floating buildings and structures are a burgeoning industry today, one that is expected to yield solutions to all kinds of problems. This is an apposite moment to ask how we should make use of this opportunity. Who is the proper custodian of shorelines and coastal areas? What might they look like in the future? It is also important to consider the question from the perspective non-humans as well.

The Baltic Sea is the most polluted sea in the world. Construction on water may inspire us to improve its condition, but it can equally well also lead to undue loads and alter sensitive natural processes. It is therefore important to carefully study and determine the ways in which this sensitive sea ecosystem can be used.

Floating Island is made of a concrete pontoon whose exterior is sculpted to resemble rock. The centre of the island consists of soil, plants and stones. The ecosystem that develops on the structure will eventually dictate what plants will grow on the island, thereby also determining the ultimate visual impact of the piece arising from a solid sculpture foundation.

Raimo Saarinen


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