New digital study materials invite you to discover the landscapes of Fred Jüssi through Jaan Tootsen’s film Olemise ilu (“The Beauty of Being”). We will be investigating how nature is mediated by the cinema screen, and how the natural environment is experienced in word, sound, and image.

“Nature on Screen” is meant to be used by elementary and high school students from the seventh grade onwards, as well as in wider environmental and interest-based education. The study topics handled here are suitable for both humanities and natural science classes. 

The study materials are centred on Fred Jüssi’s unique perceptions of nature and their mediation in the film Olemise ilu. Jüssi has multiple roles in Estonia’s “natural culture”; he is not just a nature writer, but also a nature photographer, recorder of nature sounds, a thinker, etc. The film Olemise ilu is a unique collage of Jüssi’s diverse legacy, and it is therefore possible to present different aspects of Estonia’s strong and longstanding natural-cultural tradition through this one film. It also makes it possible to approach the cognition and recording of nature through different sensory modalities or media: texts (such as nature writing), sounds (such as nature sounds), photographs (nature photos), etc.

In creating this learning environment, we have found our theoretical approach in ecosemiotics, which has in large part developed in Estonia and has been used in the conceptualisation of Estonian natural culture. Ecosemiotic research questions and methods which concentrate on the interpretative relations between nature and human beings (or more widely, between nature and culture) support the content and the tasks of this educational environment. They do so by helping students to notice and conceptualise such sign relations.

I am not a researcher or a scientist. I am an observer. In making my observations I have been primarily interested in relations and the whole, and I have been fascinated by the beauty of the thing. If I can somehow share this beauty or the experience of this beauty in some way with people, that would suit me best.

Fred Jüssi

Biologist, filmmaker, nature philosopher