James Muir

Below is info on Jame’s film and thesis. He is now doing amazing stuff with freshwater health and citizen science see his work with WAI here.

Framing the Farm; Perception and Reality in the New Zealand Pastoral Landscape

Abstract: The concept of landscape developed from an aesthetic perspective and has come to be recognized as a cultural product of perception. Landscape is natural form that is subject to our projections of cultural identification; therefore, nationally idealised landscapes are a framed view referencing national identity. Cinematic landscapes are arguably one of the most powerful mediums for constructing and reinforcing national landscape identity. In New Zealand the cinematic projections of nationhood have often ignored the environmental and Maori perceptions of landscape. Additionally the rural landscape is underrepresented and misrepresented by New Zealand national cinema yet it is arguably the most important landscape for the portrayal of culturally significant stories. A paradoxical divide has opened between the projection of New Zealand landscape identity as an environmental utopia and the reality of its ecological degradation. I argue that national cinema can bridge this divide and correct New Zealand’s misrepresentation of itself by projecting a more ecologically truthful and culturally inclusive landscape, thus establishing a stable national identity where the landscape reflects projected identities. This is a two-part thesis that addresses these themes in a written thesis and in a short documentary, titled River Dog.