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Remoteness in Landscape. A comparative study of remoteness in: remote landscape/ industrial regions/ urban areas

Part 2 Dissertation 2003
Ewan Imrie
University of Strathclyde | UK

Remote landscape can be perceived as valuable for its apparent unspoilt, natural or wild state, when opposed to the comparatively ‘unnatural’ urban cityscape. Therefore, remote landscape appeals to a need for 'escape'. This understanding propels a leisure motivated urban exodus to remote places. Remoteness implies a positional distance far from a reference. In the case of actual (leisure) travel through remote landscape, this can mean distance far from society or signs of civilisation. Individuals place themselves in the space (elements) of nature with the back up (safety) of civilised society a step removed. The length of this step may determine the remoteness of the location, and the relative risks that one is taking. It is argued, here, that an important component of remoteness is risk and that a sense of remoteness may be achieved by manipulating (imagining) risk. The experience of remoteness is subject to assumptions and prejudices that are, say Cohen and Taylor (1992), embodied in 'scripts' – products of contemporary culture that influence our relations with the outside world. With recourse to historical perspective and personal accounts of travel, this dissertation suggests that remote landscapes are heavy in 'escape scripts' that guide the way we act and 'visual scripts' that guide the way we look. These can become overbearing and hinder the experience of remoteness, and therefore the success of the escape from society, by making the activity routine and thus tied to society. Finally, it is asked: if certain industrial regions and urban areas are light on 'scripts', while being in possession of many potential risks, are there opportunities for remoteness and escape in these script-free, and risk heavy environments?

Ewan Imrie

The dissertation is a personal and well supported investigation of a topic –remoteness – that is increasingly gaining meaning within the development of our cities. Exploring different theories on landscape, remoteness and leisure and filtering them through his own experiences, the author sets up the case for the concept of remoteness within ordinary landscapes.

The author’s understanding of the attribution and perception of meanings in the natural and built environment, and his study of concepts in environmental psychology, reinforce the argument and make the reading engaging and informative.
This work is successful because it uses a personal agenda, a particular individual investigation, and situates it within a context of theory and praxis. It reflects a student who is indeed a 'deep learner', who has the ability not only to compare, contrast, analyse, but also to generalise, theorise, hypothesise and reflect.

Overall, we think this is a finely constructed and cogently written work. The writing is fluid, the structure explicit without being obtrusive, and the various threads of the argument are woven together with confidence.

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