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artful eco workings that cycle through: Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry, experimental film-making, the eco-humanities field (deep ecology, ecocriticism, ecosophy, ecofeminism), writing & forest policy development; by cathy fitzgerald, visual culture, ncad, ireland

One of the filmmakers I met in Melbourne at the ASLEC-ANZ Regarding the Earth: Ecological Vision in Word and Image 2012 conference was Andrew Denton, who is a senior digital design lecturer at AUT Auckland. I was delighted to see his work as he like me is a NZer and often examines forests in his film-making.

I especially enjoyed seeing him present a clip (from the work above) and talking about this work. What I liked most was that his work manages to say much about humanity’s effects on the earth without including narration, interviews and many other conventions of nature cinema (film and tv documentaries). The grainy filters, odd compositions and mix of ambient and composed sounds are also distinct from the high production values and aesthetics of big budget, blue-chip nature cinema. I’m reminded of other experimental filmmakers who have looked at the earth with similar sensitivity and who have explored and extended aspects of cinematic language ; Godfrey Reggio‘s Koyaanisqatsi , Zdravic’s Sunhopsoon and other films (1976), and Stan Brakhage’s works

Denton, like me is also keenly aware of forests and how our own survival is connected with them; he talked extensively about the huge loss of forests in Northern Canada (he had long worked on back-breaking large-scale  forest planting there), where incomprehensibly vast areas of forests are dying due to disease. Yet his filmwork does not overtly convey environmental activism and scientific rhetoric… its more a study about perception and other ways of  seeing/hearing, reflecting upon the vast effects we are having on earth.

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