Structural plywood, an indispensable base material for wooden residential construction in Japan, has been the main media for Tsuzuki’s latest artworks. Plywood’s main visual characteristic is its “grain repetition” result of the process of peeling logs and laminating the slabs together to ensure strength and production efficiency. Tsuzuki believes that this efficiency through repetition is best reflected is the new suburbs surrounding the metropolis of Tokyo. These new urban areas are conveniently scattered within an hour’s train ride from central Tokyo and had kept costs down by developing identical mass-produced housing in batches.
In his new series “Plywood suburbs”, Tsuzuki focuses on Yukari-ga-oka (Eucalyptus Hill in Japanese), a large-scale new town in Chiba comprised of detached houses built with the 2×4 wood framing system. This area is connected to central Tokyo by its infrastructure (highways, railroads and the power grid) that symbolizes the end of the city and the beginning of the suburbs. Despite all its uniformity and repetition, Tsuzuki wondered if these Plywood Suburbs were as tasteless and anonymous as they seem. During his research, he visited several of them and often he would find many green areas scattered among the neat rows of houses, mountains in the distance or even a waterfront nearby while the sunset was visible between the clouds and roofs’ silhouettes.
Tsuzuki believes that both suburbs and plywood have the coldness of mass production but, at the same time, contain an organic nature, an existence that oscillates between artificiality and nature. He found the link between both in the wood grain of the panels and its similarity to clouds, as used in the traditional Japanese urban landscapes of Yamato-e, allowing him to incorporate the diversity of the suburbs into the plywood.
As the clouds flutter over the plywood, mountains peek out from the streets of mass-produced houses while haze and murmurs can be heard. For Japanese people, the rows of ready-built housing developments are now becoming the original landscape of nostalgia.