Embedding Memory to Landscapes

Someone reminded me of this project a while back, so I've decided to post it on the site - I was very tempted to tweak it a bit before uploading, but as Huxley said "To pore over the shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one's middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth - all this is surely vain and futile"

Unlike Huxley at his time of writing: I am not middle-aged and this project was not twenty years ago - I was twenty:

This is what I wrote then:

On my journey, my staff acts as a memory device: using a fusion of senses and thoughts I physically stamp my presence on to the landscape.
This process begins with the assembly of the staff. Measuring 1.86 metres in total, it utilises a system of plugs and screws and can be assembled easily from its initial six parts. Poppy seeds, which are stored in one of the six pieces, are inserted into the primary shaft of the instrument at the start of each new day and transferred to a depository at the base of the shaft.

The second part of the process is the lighting of the incense. An incense stick, also stored within the staff, is inserted (ensuring the correct placement of the incense within the exposed channel) at the top of the primary shaft. Once alight the journey can begin.

As the journey progresses, each step brings a fusion of the fallen ash incense with the poppy seeds at the base depository. With each strike of the staff on the earth, the dispersion mechanism comes into effect, depositing the meld into the landscape.
The nitrates found in the ash of the incense act here as an emblematic fertilizer, mixing with the seeds and increasing the successful growth of the flower.

The scent of incense and the ritualistic act of lighting it bring to mind images of home, my family and my past. Coupled with the symbolism of remembrance associated with the poppy, I am filled with a great sense of nostalgia, which instills in me the strength to complete my journey.

With this physical stamp I leave behind memories of the past and thoughts of the present, fused with prospects for the future; marking the landscape with my soul. It is a sign to others: I have sowed a part of myself deep into the soil – living, growing, remembering.

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This project along with many other fantastic ones was featured in C j Lim's 2006 publication "Devices: a manual of architectural + spatial machines", which you can have a look at here.