Imagining Natural Scotland Project for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, presented at the INS Conference at the University of St Andrews on 27th August 2013.

Applicant Organisation: Simon Fildes

Project Description: A cross artform project using video to work with landform mapping data to explore how conceptions of wildness differ according to the observer’s point of view and how this can be and is influenced by romantic representation of the wild lands in the past and present.

This project is a collaboration between Dr Rob McMorran of the Centre for Mountain Studies UHI, and the artists Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson.

The Centre for Mountain Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands has been researching aspects of ‘wild land’ in Scotland for many years. Research they undertook for SNH in 2008 was carried forward by Dr McMorran in a wild land mapping project with Leeds University developing a robust and repeatable method for mapping wildness. This was based around the application of high resolution data and GIS models to map attributes of wildness with the aim of supporting decisions about planning, policy and management in protected landscapes.

While the demands of planners and policy makers have led to these lines being drawn, it is clear that such concepts are less easily distinguishable on the ground to anyone who visits these spots. The artists will examine the GIS mapping data with Dr McMorran to look at the boundary lines described in the mapping process that define the wild land/ buffer zones/not wild land areas; the aim being to create a series of video works that will be exhibited in a multiscreen installation.

The collaborators are interested in how the research data matches to the perceptions of place that inform a view of wildness; and how, depending on our personal experience of such landscapes, humans will mentally ‘edit out’ cultural artifacts that interfere with that perception. A stalker will see one thing, a walker another, an ecologist’s perception will be different from an archaeologist. “One man’s wilderness is another’s roadside picnic spot” is a quote often used.

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