Landscape designers Earthscape have opened up their studio in Beppu, Japan, to present their experiments with growing native plants in water from local hot springs.
Earthscape hope the On-iku experiment will confirm their suspicions that water from the hot springs has some sort of power that helps plants and animals grow stronger.
Their studio in an apartment block remains open to the public until 4 November.
See all our stories about plants here.
All photographs are by Yusuke Komatsu/Earthscape.
Here are some more details from Earthscape Open Lab:
Earthscape Open Lab
Humanity, and the environment that surrounds it, face many contradictions, and the foundation that supports these things has become unstable. When thinking about the future of this planet, we need a deep understanding of the characteristics of both our natural environment and our communities. Earthscape has rented an old wooden apartment in Beppu since 2010, and has used this Earthscape Lab to study the relationship between people and the environment, through research on the vegetation, history, and origin of the 2.7 x 3.6 m space itself. Deepening our understanding of the environment around us provides a departure for addressing environmental problems of a global scale. Since when has Beppu had this landscape? Learning the answers to the secrets hidden here might help us discover a new way of relating to the natural world.
At Earthscape Lab, we conduct research that will (possibly) help to improve the human imagination, through experiments on the environmental compatibility of plants and animals, researching of artifacts, and geological surveys. During Beppu Art Month, we make special arrangements to lift the veil and open Earthscape’s research and development workplace to the general public, as the Earthscape Open Lab.
“On-iku” (‘Hot Spring Growing’)
Beppu has the largest number of onsen (hot springs) in Japan. People who live in the area and use onsen everyday claim that, “the water itself makes all the difference.” We use the largest collection of onsen water in Japan to grow plants native to Beppu. An environmental compatibility experiment conducted by growing plants collected from different parts of Beppu City in the onsen water occurring naturally in the region.
Eiki Danzuka from Earthscape:
“Our original inspiration for the ‘on-iku’ project came relatively intuitively. I had always thought that the plants in Beppu seemed strong somehow. And I had a feeling it was either the power from Beppu’s geological treasure, the onsen, or the power from some unique ingredient found in the onsen water. I thought that by researching living creatures and people here, we could also research the ‘future beyond.’ This is how we arrived at this installation.
I have a hunch that the research and experiments we’re doing will help us perceive information around us that is often easy to overlook. Who knows? A clue to help us understand the origin of our lives and the future of the world could be hidden in the stones we kick around on the street, or in the weeds on the roadside.
We try to examine history and ecology in a manner similar to the quadrat method in a room in the Kiyoshima Apartments, specifically a small area 2.7 x 3.6 m separated from the city of Beppu. Studying the various aspects of the history of the city, ‘Beppu,’ that we live in, might provide us with glimpse of the future, or show us how we can forge better relationships between people, nature, and the city going forward.
I feel that the only way to know the future is to first know the past, and then to know the present. It’s called kougengaku (‘the study of modern social phenomena’) in Japanese. I believe that carrying on our research in a small room in the Kiyoshima Apartments will lead us to answers about Beppu, Oita, and the world. This is why I believe in our continued research.”
Earthscape’s concept in the Kiyoshima Apartments “Earthscape Lab” is to unravel the land and research the relationship between people, nature, and the city in a 2.7 x 3.6 m space. In Beppu Art Month in 2010, Earthscape conducted a project entitled “Dissecting Beppu,” where it performed an excavation survey to unravel the history and origin of the 2.7 x 3.6 m space, and presented its results as an installation. In Beppu Art Month 2011, it will present the actual process of its vegetation survey as an exhibit.
Beppu Art Month 2011Exhibition Program Earthscape Open Lab “On-iku”
1 November – 4 December, 2011 at Earthscape Lab/Kiyoshima Apartment#1 2-27 Suehirochou Beppu city, Oita, Japan
Landscape design studio founded by Eiki Danzuka. Considering the devices that create connections between humans and nature as design, Earthscape enact design works that become a platform for experience.
"Earthscape" refers to the blue, round shape of the earth as seen from outer space. With landscape design as their primary axis, Earthscape is involved in a wide array of activities, including the MHCP(www.mhcp.jp), that seek to contribute to society through design. Their major works are landscapes of the huge complex, public facilities and residential.