Shou Sugi Ban or Yakisugi, is a Japanese artisanal technique. In this tecnique, the outer layers of cedar wood are burned to create a product which is then used to coat the exterior of houses. This surface carbonization creates a layer that protects the wood from water, it delays the effects of fire and it prevents insects from feeding or nesting in it.

The traditional way of using the Shou Sugi Ban technique is by building a chimney with the wood that has already been transformed into battens and tied into bundles with wires so that it could be easily dismantled. The fire must be contained within the chimney in order to achieve carbonization that is as homogeneous as possible.

When it is determined that the surface has been sufficiently charred, the process is stopped by submerging the battens in water, making sure that the fire is completely extinguished. Once the wood is dry, it can be used as a coating. While experimenting with this Japanese artisan technique on pine wood, I observed that the high resin content of the pine fueled the fire and caused the char to penetrate more intensely and unevenly.

After removing the burnt ash, I discovered how the fire had consumed the different strata of the wood, forming a landscape of mountains and valleys with some areas that had retained the blackish tone of the burnt wood over a generalized tone of fresh wood.

project developed in Proyecto Algo thanks to the Utopia126 grant and with the colaboration of Manuel Riesgo.

art direction and photography by Armand Carrillo and Pol Alert