It's hard to see exactly what this picture is at first then, when you realize, it's pretty amazing. It's a photograph, taken around 1901, of a cedar stump converted into a house. It was taken by Darius Kinsey in Edgecomb, Washington, a man who specialized in photographing logging activities in the Pacific Northwest. It seems people have been manipulating trees into all kinds of structures for as long as we've been on the planet together.
Manipulating trees artistically is called arbosculpture, an ancient art form where trees are slowly bent or grafted into shapes like the ficus tree house above – a more modern take on the tree stump home.
At Los Angeles' County Arboretum right now, you'll find an amazing arbosculpture by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty called Catawampus. He started building the woven structure in February and it's still on view to the public.
Arbosculpture isn't limited to houses. Bend and graft enough, and you can come up with tree people, archways and all kinds of bizarre shapes.
Arbosculptors have even managed to create ladders and chairs capable of supporting a fully-grown man.
Other techniques involve weaving branches like baskets or making holes with plastic tubes.
The picture on the left reminds me of those Mursi tribeswomen who wear plates in their mouths – if you're not sure what I mean, click here. RM
Images: (top) deputydog