"Everything is connected to everything else" is the unofficial slogan of our times. But is it really, and if so, is this desirable? We explore the geo-philosophic notion of boundaries through the figure of the island, and, in so doing, propose new limits for this master metaphor and suggest the basis for a reinvigorated universalism.
As a master metaphor, the island has been a fecund source of inspiration across many domains. From More’s Utopia to Darwin’s evolutionary theory to Ungers’s archipelago, insights derived from “island thinking” are commonly extrapolated across diverse scales and fields. The appeal of the island metaphor lies in its capacity to simplify the complex and frame the apparently unbounded. Yet the concept seems to contradict current mainstream thought and practice in geographic and design fields. The globalization motifs of openness and interconnectedness, and ecology’s privilege of environmental processes and flows over forms and boundaries, both challenge the pertinence of the island as a cognitive device for territorial description and intervention.
New Geographies, 8 proposes an epistemological pulse between, on the one hand, the ultimate loss of the exterior implied in planetary upscaling of territorial interpretations (toward an idea of the world as a whole) and, on the other hand, the need to rearrange new boundaries in an environment viewed through the process-oriented lens of ecology. An “atlas” of islands, New Geographies, 8 explores the new limits of islandness and gathers examples to reassert its relevance for design disciplines.