Residual Landscape

Residual landscape explores the relation between the spiritual worship of nature, and the linear production process of lumber in Japan. Visitors are invited to walk barefoot in a landscape of sawdust which slowly step by step changes the landscape. In the landscape, a constellation of objects is placed, inspired by the architecture of worshipping nature. The work invites the audience to reflect and question the relationship with the forest; is it there for us or are we a part of it?

This project is part of the long-term project StagingWood; an investigation into our relationship with wood, a tree, and forests. The project started with a residency at the Aomori Contemporary Art Center, Japan.

Here Elmo Vermijs researched the lifecycle of the Hiba tree that is endemic to the four main islands of Japan. He was interested in the history and management of Hiba forests in Aomori prefecture and the linear production of lumber in relation to local spiritual practice.
Vermijs visited several sawmills and made field trips to places of worship in Hiba forests in Mutsu, Yomogida-mura, and Goshogawara. So far, his research resulted in two works that both concentrate on the question: How can I, as an architectural designer, relate to the Hiba forests that surround Aomori and the local uses of wood?

Vermijs started to work with various waste materials produced by the sawmills, where Hiba is cut, dried and milled in the demand for lumber and oil. Vermijs takes a particular interest in the production of leftovers: small pieces of wood, sawdust, pulp, and charcoal. These industrial waste materials are deemed economically unviable. How do they relate to the lifecycle stages of wood in the forest like the half-degraded and rotten trunks, compost, and hummus?

Photos: YAMAMOTO Tadasu / Elmo Vermijs
Photo courtesy: Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori Public University