This forest, resembling a bookshelf, includes a wide variety of woods and is made up of 51 pieces, each engraved with the name of the tree that it came from.
The games are limited editions, as they come from the remains of trees that we, together with numerous friends and collaborators, have collected and preserved over time, with a wish to extend their lives. This means that when the wood from one particular tree has been used up, we carry on with that of another tree, making each set and series truly unique.
To see the woods again as if for the first time, to be able to discover and recognize all that it contains, all that it has given us and all that we have got from it, we should start by picturing a complete desert, a world made up of just water, air and sand.
Wood itself evokes a multitude of sensations in us; its different material qualities, its different uses, smells, sound, colours and textures bring to our collective mind ancient memories that unite us with all other Earth dwellers across time and space. We have an intimate, primordial relationship with this material, this substance that at one time was alive and breathing and which makes up the flesh, body and soul of an infinite array of objects so dear to us that they never cease to evoke our special relationship with nature.
Ancient Indo-European man used the same word, mater, for mother, material and wood. In times past, burnt wood represented wisdom and death; ashes were considered seed and fire symbolized life and death at the same time. Wood was also closely related to vitality and the spirit of fire. Both American Indians and ancient Greeks, upon observing that lightning often struck the oak, presumed this noble tree to be a dwelling place of God’s. Men have always believed that wood contains secrets, powers, cures and messages that we were meant to decode. Even today, a simple walking stick can confer to us a sense of power and rootedness, being much like an appendage to our body that serves to give us strength, to reach for the fruit on the tree, or to protect us from danger.
EL BOSQUE is a game designed to develop the senses and to explore the wisdom that we humans acquired when we first began to observe, intently and intensely, each tree, each bush, each variety of wood. The game can also lead us to rediscover much that was known by our ancestors but that has since been forgotten.
Curiosity beckons: what kind of wood were the wagon’s axles and wheels made of? And what about the parts of a plough or the spindle of a grape press? From what tree did the wood come from for fashioning barrels, beams, doorways, floors, furniture, tool handles, bows and arrows, certain shoe soles, fine carvings, musical instruments?
The wood pieces are stacked in a special way, following the rules of a widely played game which, though known around the world, is especially associated with Ghana. There it is known as Sidan (Swahili for “Build the house”), while in Europe and America it is more commonly referred to as Jenga.
The game consists of removing one piece, one that is not at the highest level, and placing it on top of the pieces that were above it. The goal is to reach the greatest possible height without the building falling down, with the pieces assuming a perpendicular position at each move with relation to the previously constructed level.
There need to be at least two players, both of whom have to face the risk involved in deciding how they are going to remove a piece from the column, maintain the balance of the tower and at the same time make the next move even harder for their opponent.
The pieces may also be played with freely, stacking them any way you please.
We hope that this game will awaken your curiosity with regard to this great variety of types of woods as well as to the trees that live and grow all around us.
What makes the Pentaminos fascinating is its initial simplicity, so different from the ennigmas and problems described below. Unlike a 1000-piece puzzle, which has a single solution, the Pentaminos, while consisting of only 12 pieces, has thousands of possible solutions.
Altogether there are twelve different Pentaminos, each designated by a different letter of the alphabet: (F, I, L, N, P, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z). Pentaminos obtained by joining others at their axis or by rotation are not considered to be ‘different’ Pentaminos.
The tightrope walker balances over the precipice, risking life and limb as he walks over the thinnest of threads. They are not actors; rather, they relive what is essentially their life away from the wire. We are all tightrope walkers, though some more than others. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all balanced on the edge. That is what they are trying to tell us.
The game of the arches could also be called the game of strokes. Each piece is a line that can make drawings in the air, i.e. three-dimensional drawings. Drawing lines in the air and marveling at the forms that are created, pushing the boundaries of balance, interpreting the unexpected abstract and figurative forms that emerge... this is what the game consists of.
Ladders are the symbol of paradise lost, of that unattainable paradise. They seduce us because with them we can climb to the heights, much as we did in our previous life as primates. Climbing, forever upwards: it seems an aspiration in itself. Fruit, hanging from branches that are out of reach.