Anonymous Wood

An investigation of the relationship between people and wood

Type Research project – installation
Date November 2023
Client Funded by Stimuleringsfonds of the Creative Industries
Location Netherlands
Collaborators Zindzi Zwietering
Builder Frits Ham
Phase Preliminary design
Materials Wood

Wood is a fundamental building material that plays a major role in the design of our physical environment. Wooden beams and foundation piles are the supports of our buildings, wooden frames and doors frame the view outside, and wooden floorboards are the humble supports of human existence. We eat at wooden tables, sit on wooden chairs and store our things in wooden cupboards and shelves. We print our stories on paper, and we also wipe our butts with it. How often do we think about the fact that all these ‘products’ have been part of a living organism?

The relationship between people and trees is centuries old. On the one hand there is the craftsman, who lovingly works a plank of wood to make a piece of furniture, on the other hand we have industrialized the process of logging, and reduced the tree and its life to a dead material without self-determination.

Or can it be seen differently? Is there a mutually nurturing relationship between humans and trees? We monitor the health of forests, maintain individual trees, and ensure that more is planted than cut. We also make furniture or buildings from wood and that way the material lives on.

In the ‘Anonymous Wood’ project we investigate, through a film and sensory installation, the relationship that people and wood enter into with each other along the entire wood production chain. From forest management to the furniture maker to pulverization into wood chips. We approach the wood as a migrant who travels different routes and goes through life stages. We leave the viewer the question: Is there brutal exploitation or is there a mutually caring relationship?

Wood is a fundamental building material that plays a major role in the design of our physical environment. Wooden beams and foundation piles are the supports of our buildings, wooden frames and doors frame the view outside, and wooden floorboards are the humble supports of human existence. We eat at wooden tables, sit on wooden chairs and store our things in wooden cupboards and shelves. We print our stories on paper, and we also wipe our butts with it. How often do we think about the fact that all these ‘products’ have been part of a living organism?

The relationship between people and trees is centuries old. On the one hand there is the craftsman, who lovingly works a plank of wood to make a piece of furniture, on the other hand we have industrialized the process of logging, and reduced the tree and its life to a dead material without self-determination.

Or can it be seen differently? Is there a mutually nurturing relationship between humans and trees? We monitor the health of forests, maintain individual trees, and ensure that more is planted than cut. We also make furniture or buildings from wood and that way the material lives on.

In the ‘Anonymous Wood’ project we investigate, through a film and sensory installation, the relationship that people and wood enter into with each other along the entire wood production chain. From forest management to the furniture maker to pulverization into wood chips. We approach the wood as a migrant who travels different routes and goes through life stages. We leave the viewer the question: Is there brutal exploitation or is there a mutually caring relationship?