Leighton Pierce: Revisited and Anticipated Works

Leighton Pierce: Revisited and Anticipated Works

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CalArts Campus


Cinematic Voices

Leighton Pierce in Person

Leighton Pierce, Dean of the School of Film/Video, will take us through some of his early and recent work in video and film describing a fresh arc through it all, from the point of the his current works in progress. He will also share fragments and budding images and ideas from current unfinished works--works of anticipation. 

"The call is to provide a clear sense of embodied wholeness while simultaneously denying the possibility of objectification-- a moving image and sound practice that inhabits the very edges of the “narrativizing” impulse. The rug is present while it is simultaneously being slipped out from under you." -Leighton Pierce

“At times, it seems Pierce is capturing the beauty, the ecstasy contained in matter before its inevitable disappearance. Each of these short works is an exploration of such transient rhythms … refracted and folded such that the captured quotidian moment becomes protracted, eternal.”                                                                                  – Mubarak Ali, New Zealand Film Festival

 "I feel comfortable in saying that it jumps up to the highest levels of art, in which the combination of technical skills and comprehensions, and some given “subject” somehow combine to produce far more than either could do on their own. One can see this quality in Vermeer, in Caravaggio, in Uccello’s Battles, in Rembrandt’s self-portraits, or in Beethoven’s late Quartets. And one can see it here." – Jon Jost

Leighton Pierce creates experiences in transformative time using film, video, and sound. He creates multi-channel site-specific installations as well as single channel works that have been exhibited in major art museums and film festivals throughout the world including The Whitney Bienniale, Sundance, San Francisco, New York, Tribeca, and Rotterdam Film Festivals, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Musée d’art contemporain in Montréal, and The Sheldon Art Museum. Retrospectives of his works have been presented at venues such as, The New Zealand Film Festival, Lincoln Center, The Cinémathèque française, Festival Nemo, and Pompidou Center in Paris, and at The Lisbon Biennale. He has received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Capital. 

Pierce opened his latest site-specific work, Threshold of Affinity, at the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi, India, on December 12, 2016. Threshold of Affinity is a 14-video channel, 28-audio channel video installation that Pierce custom curated for a long and narrow room in the Pepper House, one of the Biennale's venues. The room, lined with 14 vertically mounted displays, emphasizes a bodily relationship to time.

From the Artist's Statement:

Just as our bodily markers of time constantly vary in rhythm and phase, in Threshold of Affinity, each individual video or sound element vibrates to its own variable clock. Within the room, recognized repetition (a factor of memory) sets up another layer of rhythm. And within the room there remains a common pulse among all the elements—too fast to be thought of as a rhythm, it becomes an underlying temporal texture. These relationships among the 14 screens amplify or attenuate this sense of bodily time in the viewer as they move through the space guided by sound and image.

Pierce studied ceramics and music composition, especially jazz and electronic music, before making films. His first move into filmmaking came about from his desire to add a visual component to taped music. It is a continuation of this early interest in music and the related process of constructing of emotional experiences in time that continue to guide his work.

Pierce began serving as Dean of the CalArts School of Film/Video in Fall 2014, following a two-year period in which he was Acting Dean of the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute In Brooklyn, NY.