Categoriearchief: Xylology

Study of wood

When Suddenly It Hit Me

Rinus Van de Velde
Physical Items Themselves Are Not Evidence, 2009

rinus van de velde

Rinus Van de Velde uses signs as a means to put a recalcitrant reality in order. His starting point is shaped through the world of photographic representation. Having an extensive personal archive of images ranging from (semi)scientific magazines such as the National Geographic to biographies of artists and scientists, these images form a rich source for series of drawings in which the source material is still recognizably present. The resemblance between all these pictures is not so much what they show but how they show it. By using the photographs as material for a drawing and by situating it in a different context by adding text, Van de Velde ignores the facts and creates space to tell a personal story. The aim isn’t to tell the reality behind the photo but to create third degree myth. Many of the photographs that Van de Velde references are part of an ideology that isn’t completely right or which hasn’t survived the test of time: like the deep rooted faith in the myth of the artist as authentic or autonomous, scientific progress or paternal exotism. Instead of dismantling, Van de Velde weaves through text and reciprocally references a new story. The result is a sort of mirror-universe, inhabited by brave alter-egos that map the world around them and function as ideal representatives of the actual artist.

When Suddenly It Hit Me, 2009

rinus van de velde

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Dip-Stick, 2005

Maarten Vanden Eynde dip-stick

Small wooden sculpture, planed square on one side, the other is inflicted like a burned lump or black tumor, like a stick dipped in dark matter.

Making and Knowing

Curdin Tones
final exam | overview sculptures, 2003


Making and Knowing. On the Work of Curdin Tones.
by Janneke Wesseling, Leffond, May 2007

Man is afflicted with a mania to order and structure the world. The garden must be weeded, the land cultivated. Everything around us is manufactured, made. Not only in the city, but also outside of it, in nature or what’s left of it. The need to intervene, cultivate, re-arrange, emerges over and over. Like the creation of the ‘foraging landscape’ and ‘recreation zones’ in the Lange Bretten, the green belt between Amsterdam West and Halfweg through which Curdin Tones cycles on his way to his studio. The greenery must be organised and contained; asphalt is laid, trees felled, water features laid out. Our environment is in a constant state of flux, constantly altering the benchmarks for our actions. A cycling path is suddenly re-routed,  the intersection has become a roundabout. And we change with them.
Tones (Tschlin, Zwitserland, 1976) understands only too well the passion to order, the fervour to impose human will on material. When will and material converge, enormous satisfaction is produced. Which applies equally to a well-shaped knife and a successful sculpture.
As a child, Tones watched a carpenter shape a straight shelf to fit a bowed wall. The carpenter drew the curvature of the wall onto the shelf with a pencil held flush to the wall. At this moment, the difference between straight and crooked was unmasked. The carpenter shaved away the excess wood. The linear had become the curvilinear.
Tones produced his first sculptures (2003) from pinewood packing case wood. He screwed three straight boards, appropriately warped, to one bent one. This resulted in a single volume, a compressed beam. One sees that the ‘beam’ is hollow from the side. Tones made three such sculptures, as is his wont: he produces variations on an idea, resulting in a series. Two of which are on show at the exhibition in Enschede.
Material dictates form. In the book Eigen Grond, that Tones produced on the occasion of his graduation presentation at the Rietveldacademie, he writes: “Wood is a material that has grown. The growth of the tree depends on where the tree stands. The growth locus determines the height of the tree, hardness of the wood and number of knots. The wood of one tree may be harder on one side than the other. Wood from the root and crown sections also differ in strength. Sapwood and hardwood serve different functions within the tree, thus having different degrees of hardness. While the wood dries out, these anomalies cause tensions. If a beam is finally allocated one place and one function, knowledge of where the tree grew may be vital. A craftsman who cut and sawed the tree himself knows the wood and its qualities so he can use it to better effect. When fresh wood is used inappropriately it can split, break and resist its assigned function. The awareness that no two lengths of timber are the same is crucial during construction so as to make best use of the planks.”
In the sculptures that resulted, fashioned from wood grown on mountainsides, Tones again explored the tension between wood as natural material and worked it according to traditional methods. He sawed various trunks lengthwise into four, planning the sawed edge of the sections smooth. Then he affixed the edging. The long timber sections look vulnerable and organic laid on the ground.
Tones wants to make things, objects that are physically present. He wants to make three dimensional objects, even though most of his pieces are presented lying on the ground. He loves the stubbornness of the material. He searches for ways of heightening the experience of the material.
Sculpture demands a slow concentration, a different way of looking. It is a kind of leisureliness when compared to how we live and navigate the city, accustomed as we are to digital media and lightning-speed, fleeting impressions. Tones is fascinated by the rural landscape of his youth. Life in the country has weight, torpidity; time works differently. Admittedly, things age here, but at another pace.

Curdin Tones
without title, 2004
arolla pine (208 x 13 x 12 cm)


foto: P.Cox

without title, 2004
arolla pine (23 x 409 x 1.8 cm)


foto: P.Cox

Long ago, there was no difference between the artist and the craftsman. The word techne, from which our word ‘technology’ derives, not only referred to the practice of craftsmanship, but also to art. The cabinet maker and the potter, and the master builder, sculptor or painter were all called technites. This changed with Plato and Aristotle. Philosopher Gerard Visser writes: “Aristotle distinguished between man and animal: animals live by experience (empeira), but man lives by technique and reasoning (technekai logismois). Techne is the extraordinary means of poiesis that produces, from what it brings forth, in order to cause (aition). Techne is not production as such, the proficiency grown of experience, but knowing the reason why (dioti). Nowadays we understand this knowledge only in terms of rationality and causality, the seed of which was planted by Aristotle”.
In other words, technology was once more than knowing in terms of rationality and causality, it was knowing why. The same Aristotle elsewhere spoke of techne as episteme, a way of knowing or recognising that is not only rational knowing, but a knowledge that produces truth.
This means, however miraculous it might sound to us, that truth can result from making (poiein) something, and that a product can be true, can possess a truth. Technology once was not something rational as in our day. Visser : “Anything that transposes something from not-being to being is poiesis. Poiesis underlies the products of all technai. All craftsmen who bring something into being are poietai. Technology, we could say, is thus also poetic. And art is, reversed, a form of technology; not because the artist would also be a craftsman […], but because the work of both is real.”
Since Plato, who asserted that a work of art is the embodiment of imitation and illusion and that it has nothing to do with truth or knowledge, and, since Aristotle, art and technology have gradually grown apart. Until they became two completely separate areas. Visser: “Art and technology are identified with the mutually exclusive spheres of the illusory and the true, the ideal and real, the emotional and the intellectual, the irrational and the rational.” Art became uprooted because its ability to think, to get to know the world and discover truth, was denied.
Since Modernism and the avant-gardes of the last century, artists have been reclaiming the ability to think, whether this is intuitive or rational thought or both simultaneously. In the tradition of the avant-garde, the artist accepts nothing as a given. It is his task to question all suppositions about art and art practice, and his position in society, again and again. Since then, artists have appropriated a critical-theoretical approach that is generally considered as an integral element of their practice. Art itself is increasingly considered a form of research, as an activity directed at knowledge acquisition. There is mounting attention, both among artists and theoreticians, for the cognitive function of the artwork: art as a way of getting to know reality.

This does not mean that art and technology or art and science have since drawn closer together again (although there are some signs pointing in that direction). But perhaps greater scope has been shaped for the idea that the artwork can offer insight into, or knowledge of, reality. A knowledge that is not directed at a clearly delineated objective, at applicability, but art as a means of knowing why.

This lies at the heart of Tones’ work. His ambition is to learn about the materials with which he works and our attitudes to them, to attain insight into our way of being in the world. Just as the craftsmen of his native village have an intimate knowledge of pinewood and put this knowledge into practice every day, Tones, by giving these materials a new form endeavours to bring their essence to light.
It is an attempt to render the spirit of wood, plaster, concrete or stone visible or tangible through human action. Making, poiein, is knowing.

Modernistic Tree

Square Tree Trunk, 2008

square tree

Square Tree Trunk series are a part of NATURE V2.01 project. ‘Round’ is perfect in nature, but ‘square’ is perfect for industrial standard. To illustrate, square tree would enable wood industry to lose less material, to cut easier with machines and to store more efficiently.

square tree2

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Bonfire: Rite for Almere, 2008

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde

All over the world rites and celebrations form the backbone of a society and function as cornerstones of history. The rite is an event to remember or look forward to. An occasion to create a moment of reflection, an enlarged presence of the present, the ideal opportunity to commemorate once past and plan the future. It is an event of which if you are part of that particular society, you just have to be there. Sometimes the initial history of the rite is lost but still continued because it is part of everybodies life. Since Almere lacks a history (beyond 30 years) I thought of giving it one by initiating a rite. An oak tree from the first generation of planted trees in Almere (about 35 years old) was cut square, like a big beam splitting up in smaller beams, covered with dry pinewood and lit on the 21st of August 2008 at 21.00. The tree will stay for a few years as semi-permanent sculpture and will be relit every year untill it only exists in stories.

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde


Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree-ring growth patterns. This technique was invented and developed during the 20th century originally by the astronomer A. E. Douglass, the founder of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona.


Other branches of Dendrology:

dendroarchaeology: The science that uses tree rings to date when timber was felled, transported, processed, or used for construction or wooden artifacts. Example: dating the tree rings of a beam from a ruin in the American Southwest to determine when it was built.

dendroclimatology: The science that uses tree rings to study present climate and reconstruct past climate. Example: analyzing ring widths of trees to determine how much rainfall fell per year long before weather records were kept.

dendroecology: The science that uses tree rings to study factors that affect the earth’s ecosystems. Example: analyzing the effects of air pollution on tree growth by studying changes in ring widths over time.

dendrogeomorphology: The science that uses tree rings to date earth surface processes that created, altered, or shaped the landscape. Example: analyzing changes in tree growth patterns via tree rings to date a series of landslide events.

dendroglaciology: The science that uses tree rings to date and study past and present changes in glaciers. Example: dating the inside rings of trees on moraines to establish the approximate date of a glacial advance.

dendrohydrology: The science that uses tree rings to study changes in river flow, surface runoff, and lake levels. Example: dating when trees were inundated to determine the sequence of lake level changes over time.

dendropyrochronology: The science that uses tree rings to date and study past and present changes in wildfires. Example: dating the fire scars left in tree rings to determine how often fires occurred in the past.

dendroentomology: The science that uses tree rings to date and study the past dynamics of insect populations. Example: dating the growth suppressions left in tree rings from western spruce budworm outbreaks in the past.

Helgi Hjaltalins Ejolfsdorfs
Dig down Dig up, 2004



Made for the Sculpture Quadrennial Riga 2004 – European Space

Cold Dark Matter

Cornelia Parker
Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View
, 1991

Cornelia Parker

Cold Dark Matter began life as a garden shed filled with objects from her own and friends’ sheds and things bought at a car boot sale. She then asked the army to blow up the shed under very controlled conditions. The objects, along with the fragments of the shed, were collected and suspended in a closed room in an attempt to recreate the moment just after the explosion. The installation is lit with a single light-bulb at the very centre of the arrangement, casting shadows on the walls. The title gives us a whole new way of understanding the artwork, making us think of other dramatic moments of destruction and creation in the much wider universe.

Neither From Nor Towards, 1992

Cornelia Parker2

In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’ the brick remnants of an eroded house hang suspended in stilled animation in the work of British artist Cornelia Parker, who was nominated for the Turner prize in 1997. Her work often depicts a moment in time, which has been halted. In ‘Neither From Nor Towards’, the bricks are resonant with their previous life, reminding us of the passage of time over which we have no control. Parker rescues and reinterprets the ordinary, which is transformed by the gallery setting into something poetic and extraordinary.

Heart of Darkness, 2004

Cornelia Parker3

Charcoal from a Florida Wildfire (planned forest burn that got out of control)

Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire in I956 and lives and works in London. She is interested in how everyday objects can be changed by (often violent) processes. During her career she has used a steamroller to flatten silver plates and has transformed a wedding ring into metres of fine, gold thread. Although at first glance it might seem that she is interested in destroying objects, she is in fact fascinated by how change can create something completely new.

The Three Body Problem

The Three Body Problem is the mathematical problem of finding the positions and velocities of three massive bodies, which are interacting each other gravitationally, at any point in the future or the past, given their present positions, masses, and velocities. An example would be to completely solve the behavior of the Sun-Jupiter-Saturn system, or that of three mutually orbiting stars. It is a vastly more difficult exercise than the two-body problem. In fact, as Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) and others showed, the three-body problem is impossible to solve in the general case; that is, given three bodies in a random configuration, the resulting motion nearly always turns out to be chaotic: no one can predict precisely what paths those bodies would follow.

Watch here: The Tree Body Problem animation

Genetologic Research Nr. 6, 2003 (300cm x 300cm x 300cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.6

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.6b

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Three wooden (oak) beams are manually bended by fire and water during a three week lasting ’torture-session’. After being liberated from the bending-machine, the beams stay in their forced position. The thee bodies are photographed in a certain way, but can change position without loosing their inter-relating balance. Various positions have been tried and just a few points of view bring them into a harmonious equilibrium. Any change or random elaboration creates chaos or disharmony.

The Lightning Field

Walter De Maria

The Lightning Field, 1977, by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of southwestern New Mexico. It is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. The poles-two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet and 7½ inches in height-are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid pointed tips that define a horizontal plane. Only after a lightning strike has advanced to an area of about 61 m above the The Lightning Fielf can it sense the poles. The experience of the work directly in nature, the effect of the changing light, the shifting space, heat and the sense of waiting for a specific event (the lightning) heightens the viewer’s sense of scale and time.

Lightning Field

Genetologic Research Nr. 5bis, 2003 (100cm x 100cm x 450cm) 1km long

Maarten Vanden Eynde Dakpark

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Bospolder Tussen Dijken, 2003, by the Belgian sculptor Maarten Vanden Eynde, is a work of Land Art in a remote area of Bospolder Tussendijken, near Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It is comprised of 34 wooden beams installed in plastic tubs and covered with earth. Each pole is 450 cm in length and weighs, together with the tub, about 500 kilo. The whole work stretches out over 1 km. The wood is bended, twisted and stretched because of the weather conditions and the changing of seasons.


Joseph Beuys

Beuys’ planting of 7000 oak trees troughout the city of Kassel for Documenta7 embodied a wide concept of ecology which grows with time. 7000 trees were planted next to a basalt stone marker. Beuys stated that the project is a ‘movement of the human capacity towards a new concept of art, in symbolic communication with nature.’ The first tree was planted in 1982; the last tree was planted eighteen months after Beuys’ death at the opening of Documenta8 in 1987 by his son Wenzel Beuys.

‘I believe that planting these oaks is necessary not only in biospheric terms, that is to say, in the context of matter and ecology, but in that it will raise ecological consciousness-raise it increasingly, in the course of the years to come, because we shall never stop planting.’

‘I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet.’

-Joseph Beuys, quoted by Johannes Stuttgen, 1982

7000 oaks



Growth Rings of Wooden Beams

Giuseppe Penone

Among the central members of the Arte Povera group, Penone was perhaps the one most drawn to organic materials. In a series of sculptures begun in 1969, for instance, the artist chiseled through the growth rings of wooden beams to excavate tender saplings from within.

(11-Meter Tree), 1989


Penone made this work using a chainsaw and chisel to cut back the layers of growth from a single timber beam. He worked carefully around the knots to reveal the internal structure of narrow core and developing branches. The form of a young tree is exposed, while part of the beam is left untouched to signify its status as a manmade object. By returning the tree to an earlier stage of its growth, Penone reverses the effects of time.

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Since 2000 Vanden Eynde is working with trees and the remnants of them: wooden beams and sticks. In various attempt to reassemble a tree he used the ever present year rings as natural reference and starting point for his attempts.

Pre-Genetologic Research, 2000 (100cm x 100cm x 450cm) one piece

Maarten Vanden Eynde eschatology nr 2

Pre-Genetologic Research: Stam-Boom, 2001 (100cm x 350cm 100cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde stam boom

Genetolocic Research Nr. 2&4, 2003 (30cm x 50cm x 180cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.2&4

Genetolocic Research Nr. 23, 2005 (50cm x 50cm x 5cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.23

With Genetologic Research Nr. 9 Vanden Eynde made the opposite movement by creating a beam from a branch. The wood fibres of the heavy oakwooden branch are followed creating an organic and impossible curved beam. The work was part of a series where wood was being tortured and transformed by machines. The metal boxes on both sides are the only reminders of human interference.

Genetologic Research Nr. 9, 2004 (50cm x 50cm x 250cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.9