Monday, August 25, 2008

Student Post, Kapok Tree

Next up from my students, Hyunch Sung:

"The Space Inside a Tree: Ceiba petandra"

Ceiba petandra, family Bombacaceae, also known as the Kapok tree, grows in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, Africa, and the West Indies. It grows very fast to over 100 feet and has nocturnal blooming flowers. With its giant trunk and spiring branches covered in fuzz resembling an insect's appendages, it appears as mythical as it is imagined and defined as being by the ancient Mayans.

Mayans believed that this tree served as a portal between the sky and the earth. It is often hollow because of the decay caused by the moisture from torrential, rainy seasons. Monkeys often live inside the hollows. The hollow of this tree creates space for the myth of entry through the different spheres.

The creation of super-space inside this tree is a human installation of super natural power. Nature's aspect as flora is often backdrop and/or pure science. Fauna usually play active roles in sacred storytelling. Ceiba petandra, however is not just backdrop or magical canopy. It is a passage between the world of above and the world below. It is a gate between the different layers of the natural world. This tree reminds me that we are walking through sustainable and living installations that are art and magic after committed transformation. The internal spaces and functions of plant material are abundant sources of inspiration for time-based installations and living sculptures.

by: Hyunch Sung

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