In May 2016 I collaborated with artist Jasper Coppes to make a short 16mm film shot in the wilds of the Flow Country, Caithness and Sutherland, northern Scotland. The resulting film was shown in the Scottish Competition at the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2017 and won special mention in the Scottish Film Award.
Flow Country: UK, Netherlands, 2017. 16mm
A film by Jasper Coppes, with archeologist Dan Lee, cinematography Casper Brink, field recording, audio post production and sound design Malu Peeters.
Coppes writes …. Like a visual fieldwork notebook, the fragmented scenes of a 16mm film pose a question: what does it mean to survey the layers of past and present in a desolate landscape? Remnants of ecological and social transformations are brought into view as historical records of a contested site. The Flow Country is the largest expanse of blanket peat in the Northern hemisphere and is of international significance because it provides a habitat for many unique and rare communities and species of specialized flora and fauna. Attempts at industrialization in the form of tax deduction forests, military test flights, hydropower, nuclear and wind energy have left their mark. More recent changes to the landscape were initiated by peat land restoration, wildlife protection and research into the carbon reducing capacities of moss. By navigating sound equipment and camera through the land in the company of an archaeologist, the film superimposes earlier attempts to designate or desecrate this vast expanse – blurring the distinction between that which is, has been or is yet to come. Flow Country investigates the medium of 16mm film as an archeological record in itself. It proposes the idea that the ‘archaeology of the present’ can be a site of production. It directs the role of the archaeologist from that of the observer of a disconnected past towards that of an active agent in the creation of future historical layers.
Review from Eye for Film: http://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/review/flow-country-2017-film-review-by-andrew-robertson
Made possible with the generous support of Camera Rentals and the Mondriaan Foundation. Dan Lee was supported by the UHI Archaeology Institute.