You are here
Home > DPR > ‘Vanishing Asia’ is a 3-book set of 9,000 photos documenting Asia’s disappearing traditions

‘Vanishing Asia’ is a 3-book set of 9,000 photos documenting Asia’s disappearing traditions

Lead image: Men in Afghanistan playing the game buzkashi. Image credit: Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly, one of the co-founders of Wired, has spent 40 years photographing vanishing cultures and traditions throughout Asia. He has spent the last year designing and producing a large photo book, ‘Vanishing Asia,’ which he has launched on Kickstarter. The photobook, which comes in three volumes, features disappearing traditions and designs from 35 countries.

Of his new book, Kelly writes, ‘There is no doubt Asia is the future. But its ancient cultures have much to teach us today. In a new world where everyone must think different, traditional ways can help us escape the ordinary. Alternative ways of doing things are the otherness that speeds innovation, diversity and wealth. This huge book of vanishing traditions in Asia is a sourcebook of ‘otherness’ for innovators, designers, makers, and anyone who needs to think different. Oh, and it is also a magical journey in a time machine to another planet, now long gone.’

Kelly has taken hundreds of trips to Asia during his 40 years of travels, logging tens of thousands of kilometers along the backroads of Asia. His travels have ranged from the far reaches of the Middle East to the Japanese archipelago. He has also traveled far into southern and southeastern Asia and north into Mongolia.

The red lines show Kelly’s surface routes during his travels throughout Asia

Kelly feels confident in saying that few people have seen as much of Asia as he has and that nobody has photographed the same range as him. He has collected books and photo books about Asia throughout his life, and he can ‘safely say that there is no book in the world like this one.’ The three volumes comprise more than a thousand pages and 9,000 images. Each image has been captured and captioned by Kelly himself. ‘When you look at one of my photographs of an ancient tradition now rare and disappearing, remember that I was standing right there with a camera. I took all these photos. I also designed every page of the book…This was a passion project for 40 years.’ As Kelly writes on his website, ‘For 40 years I have been capturing the scenes of Asia that are disappearing. In some of the images taken many years ago, what I captured is now gone.’

Loose pages from an artist proof of ‘Vanishing Asia’

When Kevin Kelly was 20 years old, he dropped out of college to travel to Asia. He arrived in Taiwan in 1972, ‘deeply ignorant’ and ready to learn. He kept going to new places to learn more about the history and culture, and he never stopped traveling. He has written about travel, published books, co-founded Wired and more throughout his career. As he’s worked on ‘Vanishing Asia,’ Kelly has published images from the upcoming book on Instagram.

Each volume of ‘Vanishing Asia’ focuses on a specific region of Asia and includes 360 pages

Each volume, which is dedicated a specific region of Asia, is 360 pages (11 x 16.5″ / 28 x 50cm) and printed on heavy glossy paper. The entire set, in slipcase, weighs 27 lbs. (12.2kg). There are currently backer options available for $235 USD, plus $20 shipping. The volume will be sold for $300 at retail. Due to the size and weight of the books, shipping outside of the United States is considerably more expensive. Additional shipping information can be found on Kickstarter. Delivery is expected by early November.

Note/disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project before backing it. Pledges to crowdfunding campaigns are not pre-orders. DPReview does not have a relationship with this, or any such campaign, and we publicize only projects that appear legitimate, and which we consider will be of genuine interest to our readers. You can read more about the safeguards Kickstarter has in place on its ‘Trust & Safety’ page.