The forest as a topos: A source of stories becomes a realm of transformation

Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert

Supervisors: Mark Cousins, Chittawadi Chitrabongs


The forest symbolically is a certain type of place—a topos whose physical boundaries are secondary. It is also a domain of experiences (i.e., stories, dreams, fears, hopes) and a special kind of emotional characters that has been using as vehicles of narrations. This source of stories provokes an emergence of transformations. Centre of the thesis is The Forest which resonates in different fictional and poetic conceptions. Stories reflect on the forest as prefigurations where going into the forest is going into different types of places. The forest as a topos is a site of transformations which produces narratives of those accounts.

The world of the forest is substantially experienced through its representations rather than its empirical physicality. In stories, the forest becomes like a setting. The setting that miraculously allows unrealistic experiences and emotions to emerge. Furthermore, the forest becomes almost like a character acting as an extravagantly fanciful agent who advocates the emergence of imaginary beings. This linguistic behaviour categorises the forest as a fictitious place where consequently transformations are originated by foretokened dominations. The paradox that The Forest as almost natural actually for human can represent what unnatural by being supernatural, magical, mysterious. Thus, it is this mechanism in which the natural can become an unnatural through settings. Under certain conditions, this natural object becomes almost the sign of the unnatural.The thesis is concerned to make an analysis of the cultural significance of the forest in addition to the obvious geographical, ecological and legal definitions of a forest. The thesis is concerned to combine this with a cultural analysis of the forest using materials drawn from children stories from poetries and from other representations of forests in popular culture. It will draw on English and Thai cultures and will attempt a comparative study of the forest in these two quite different cultures. This will require a study of theories and methods of analyses of folk tales and narratives. This is a very large literature but the thesis requires underpinning of a method which seek to analyse narrative.

Image: Lost, Udonthani Thailand, Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert, 2018

Biography: Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert is an artist who is currently a PhD candidate at the Architectural Association, School of Architecture. She was trained as a communication designer at CommDe Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. She has been a tutor at AA Visiting School Bangkok concerning the theme of Trees in Bangkok, ‘Curartistry’ since 2018. She as a co-artist with Kornkamon Kaewprasert has exhibited an art piece titled ‘The Wood’ which reflects on both of their interests on the subject of wood, forest, and craftsmanship at Royal Academy of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019 in London. They founded Made of Two, a multidisciplinary design practice, centred around wood, tree and forest, in 2015. It is where they researched and made projects in various scales from visual media, exhibitions, furniture to architectures. From 2016, Made of Two has started its own wood-working space to pursue their conceptual and empirical interests in the materials.