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Wes Viz

Digitally Rewilding The Westfjords, 2023

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In July of 2023, I arrived in Iceland to take part in an artists residency in the remote Westfjords region, in a village called Ísafjörður. Initially I was interested in creating a 'virtual land artwork' in the same vein as Robert Smithson albeit digitally, but had a pivotal moment during the drive north. There was an abundance of the purple lupine flower stretching alongside the roads. This flower is famous in Iceland for its summer colours, but when I reached Ísafjörður and was speaking to locals they were a point of contention. The flowers were not native; they had been brought to Iceland in 1945 in an attempt to plant vegetation that would prevent topsoil erosion. Over a century of slash-and-burn deforestation had taken its toll on the land. However their rapid spread, coupled with future global warming, has become a matter of extreme concern to Icelanders.

With 'Digitally Rewilding the Westfjords' I explored the concept of creating an immersive 3D environment to reimagine the landscape and decolonize the vegetation. I imagine an alternate world where we had not replaced native vegetation with invasive species, and what that would look like.

A month after returning home from Iceland, the Maui wildfires broke out. The fires were a tragedy resulting in over 115 deaths. Global warming was the main culprit, but scientists have also attributed its rapid spread to an increase in non-native grass species on the island. These grasses were left to grow unchecked and were highly flammable. This catastrophe struck me as a call to arms. Something could be done with my immersive environments that could create a bigger awareness of what is happening with increasing acceleration to our natural world.

Even in remotest Iceland we can see the effects of mankind and the future devastation it could lead to. With ‘Digitally Rewilding the Westfjords’ I explore the idea of rewilding an environment to what it would look like before human intervention, in its most natural and pristine state.

All 3D animation and music in 'Digitally Rewilding the Westfjords' has been created by myself.

Wes Viz

Digitally Rewilding The Westfjords, 2023


Digitally Rewilding The Westfjords, 2023

Making of Documentary


A behind-the-scenes look at my largest environment to date.

Created on site in Ísafjörður, Iceland, and given as a presentation to the local residents in July, 2023 in the local cinema Ísafjarðar Bíó.

00:06 About Wes Viz, selection of previous work

02:11 Documentary

05:47 Work-In-Progress Fly Through

Heightmap render of Ísafjörður, Iceland


Developing the landscape in World Creator

Wes on site in Iceland

Screenshot 2024-03-09 173840.jpg

Taking Field Recordings in Ísafjörður


Side-by-side comparison of the area


Creating the atmosphere


Bringing the landscape into Unreal Engine

All the foliage was hand-placed in the landscape


Still from the final film


Still from the final film

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