We began experimenting with dirt simply because it appeared to be the most primal and readily available material around. Its raw and unprocessed quality was important for us because it meant that it was not yet formatted, therefore without boundaries and with great potential. At first we were intrigued by the ancient rammed earth construction techniques because it meant that we could possibly obtain a free standing and dense structure with only soil and no artificial elements. Therefore we built a wood casing that served as a sturdy frame in which to pack the dirt into form. We collected the soil, mixed it with clay, sand and packed it with our hands and feet. It was the first time for each of us to work extensively with earth and the experience proved to be refreshing. Dirt has a strong identity, it is charged with odor, rich in texture and its mass is hard to grasp. Its elementary composition varies from place to place; it has an inherent specificity to its location and speaks of its original site. We quickly found that its expressive and evocative potential was far greater than we had anticipated.
We had envisioned the erosion being a part of the artwork, resulting in a constant dialogue between the structure and its surroundings as well as setting the form in perpetual evolution. However we had not thought of the possibility that actual life could be generated by it. One day as we were checking on the erosion of structure we found that an herb had grown from the block of earth and that a snail had climbed onto it. For us it was somewhat of a revelation: through the use of soil we could develop work that would not only exhibit the realities of its surroundings but also generate life or even be alive.
The next step was to include seeds in the soil mix and find the appropriate balance between nutrients and structural integrity. Therefore we made an experiment:
By that time we had started working with the adobe process as well, which involve mixing natural fibers such as hay into the mix and adding more water to obtain a mud like consistency. The process was considerably less strenuous and the result was stronger structurally and richer texturally.