News: Big Bambú – Setouchi Triennial, Japan

As part of the Setouchi Triennale 2013, Doug and Mike Starn have created a huge installation consisting of thousands of bamboo poles in the Ko district of Teshima island.

Doug and Mike Starn, Big Bambú

Doug and Mike Starn, Big Bambú

A path through the bamboo forest ultimately leads to a Bambú walkway tied with climber’s cord directly to the living stalks and winds its way up through the living forest, higher and higher, until ultimately breaking through the surface of the canopy of bamboo leaves. Only the visitor’s upper body emerges and the elevated pathway faces the Starns’ vision of a large fishing boat, modeled after the fishing boat normally seen docked at Ieura port but enlarged to 20 meters long- and made entirely of Bambú – floating on the canopy sea of bamboo leaves at over 18 meters high. The visitor will approach the boat on the Starns’ path as if swimming through the canopy, then climb aboard the boat. The view out from the boat shows the waves of bamboo leaves flowing in the breeze with the Inland Seto Sea and the neighboring island of Ogijima in the distance. Bamboo leaves break over the sides and bamboo flows across the deck, long poles used in the fabrication of the boat are splashes and fishing poles.

Doug and Mike Starn - Aerial view of Big Bambú

Doug and Mike Starn – Aerial view of Big Bambú

Entering the cabin of the boat- the visitor descends below deck into the hull to see the interdependent structure creating the being of the boat, a catwalk through the crawl space inside the hull leads the visitor to the bow to the observation bubble which was thought up in a dream actually*.

Doug and Mike Starn - Big Bambú

Doug and Mike Starn – Big Bambú


The structure is created from several hundred living poles in the rhizomatic root system of the forest (new poles sprout daily, encroaching the elevated pathway) and about 2,000 poles harvested from other forests on the island of Teshima and from Kyushu.

The pathway is about 60 meters long and the canopy sits at about 18 meters off the ground, the boat is 20 meters long, but the capacity is limited to only 8 or 10 people at a time to keep the experience personal. The artwork was constructed by 9 of the Starns’ experienced crew from the US and 4 Japanese rock climbers working with the artists over a period of 5 weeks, with the support of many other new local friends on the ground.



Liz Elliott, Steve Brown, Zac Hansen, John Mackey, Colleen O’Brien, Gaby O’Shea, Sarah Shaw, Mark Stephens, Dave Vegeto, Achi Sato, Hiro Koizumi, Hiromi Katsuno, Masa Mii, Aki Suzuki.

* Thank you Steve Zissou


All images and text are courtesy of Doug and Mike Starn 


Works by Doug and Mike Starn will be part of our exhibition at Sydney Contemporary 13 from 19th to 22nd September. Art Plural Gallery will be at Booth D141.

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