This report brings together the findings and reflections from a year-long creative enquiry into the ecological and cultural meanings and values associated with the Black Wood of Rannoch in Highland Perthshire. It is a result of ongoing dialogue between its authors Tim Collins, Reiko Goto and David Edwards, and complemented by a series of residencies with a diverse range of project partners and colleagues, both locally in Kinloch Rannoch, and in government agencies, universities and NGOs who, in different ways, care about the Black Wood and its contribution to the community and society as a whole. Over time, the effort would focus upon the development of a ‘Future Forest’ workshop held over two days in Rannoch in November 2013. The event created a space for participants to reflect on their own current experiences of the forest and imagine alternative futures that protect the ecological value of the forest, while exploring a more robust cultural relationship. The artists produced various artworks around these themes, and worked with David Edwards to produce this report, as well as various chapters and journal entries that examine the principles in the work.
Extraordinary LIVING things can stop us in our tracks, and demand our attention. Other LIVING things become familiar through intimate experience and attention over time. If science is defined by useful general truths, is it the role of art and aesthetics to help us to see specific truths? In other words, if science informs us of what trees are as a set of things and how they function as biological organisms – is it aesthetics that are responsible for the pictures in our head, and the potential to differentiate unique and specific experiences of things in common from the general idea of how they relate to all other things? How do we value those things that envelop us with unexpected imaginative and aesthetic force?