Leighton Pierce works on the interfaces of memory, imagination, and perception. In his recent work, he eliminates the delineation of the "shot" through a layered, painterly approach to image and a highly integrated soundtrack. His videos consistently win awards at international festivals. Selected video works are listed here.

Number One

Image 2007, 10:05, HDV/mini-DV/DVD. color, stereo sound

Download Number One at iTunes Store

With water imagery as the foundation, Number One engages the experience of elasticity between varying states of mind.  The contrasts in this multi-image piece -- shifts between frenetic chaos and calm order, between an intense central focus and a diffuse periphery, between hard and soft, fixed and fluid, concrete and abstract -- are all developed not in opposition to each other but rather, in an interwoven, multilayered relation to each other.  There is never one set of oppositions but rather a dance of relationships between contrasting states. This is one way to think about how a mind works:  at any moment, there is never just one thing (or feeling, or perception) in life; there is always a magnetized and elastic push/pull among many things at once.  The flow of our attention among these things is our mind.  Number One is one way to map a few moments in such a mind.

Number One  is a single channel evolution of the 6 channel video installation Convection .


               	Sundance Film Festival
		Black Maria Film Festival, First Place 


My Person in the Water


2006, 5:30, HDV/mini-DV/DVD, 16:9, color, stereo sound

A woman moving in the water and the gaze of a man, both seen from beneath the water, elaborated by the vectorizing force of sound, lead the viewer toward an effervescence of feeling – a desire for merge among the knowledge of separateness.



Image 2004-2005, 11:05, mini-DV/DVD/4:3/color/stereo sound

Evoking a small fraction of the emotional complexities of life, Pierce works with the question of absence and what of a person remains in the memory and imagination when that person is absent. Constructed in three parts, this flowing video explores absence and how absence transforms and influences perception, memory, and imagination.

Freed from the constraints of traditional narrative, it is that process of creating an image in the mind of the viewer--the psychological filling-in of the imagined space, not the actual photograph of a space--that Pierce engages. Through the use of rich cascading imagery against the counterpoint of the soundtrack, Pierce disintegrates the film plane, allowing viewers to embody the perceptions of the video solidly within themselves. This video encourages a different kind of viewing and listening—one in which listening and looking inward matters as much as looking outward. 


Selected festival screenings:

  • Sundance Film festival 2006
  • Taipei Golden Horse Film festival 2005 (best Experimental Film)
  • Festival Nemo (Paris) 2005
  • European Media Arts Festival 2005 (Osnabruck Germany)
  • Video Formes 2005 (Bourges, France)
  • Ann Arbor Film Festival 2005
  • San Francisco International Film Festival 2005
  • Big Muddy Film Festival 2005
  • Athens Film Festival 2005



A Private Happiness

Image2003, 10:00, color/stereo sound, mini-dv

"The physical and psychological space between a pair of lovers, probed by handheld camera, is abstracted, collapsed, and transformed into an erogenous zone of pure color and undulating movement. A visualization of touch, a cross section of desire."

–I.M. Black Maria
Video festival Catalog

Selected festival screenings:

  • Torino Film festival
  • World Wide Video Festival (Netherlands)
  • SeNef, Soeul , Korea
  • VAD (Spain)
  • European Media Arts Festival
  • Black Maria (First Place)
  • Chicago Underground Film fest
  • Athens
  • Big Muddy



37th & Lex

Image2002, 3:40 color/ stereo sound

A brief impression triggers an emotion echoing with memories of the past and anticipations of the future. This quiet communication, a composition of image, sound, and text, reflects that feeling and invites its continuation. This “video letter,” originally intended for an audience of one, resonates with associations that many can embrace.

Selected festival screenings:

  • Reel NY (WNET, NY Broadcast)
  • NY Video Festival
  • Mill valley Film festival
  • London Film festival
  • Athens Film festival


Pink Socks

Image2002, 3:40, color/ stereo sound

Another brief documentary on the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

And a poem about the video:

I will claim in public
(because it sounds like work,
a kind of sacrifice for art),
that I was down
on the ground--
--and you should have seen my shirt,
     all those little tiny feathers,
         and the dust, 
            and the smell,
              the wings flapping at my ears--
But in truth
I appreciated,
I put to good use,
the 3.5"-flipout-tiltable-color-LCD screen,
leaving me belly up 
while my Sony whined,
belly down
on the stone
in the midst of the pigeoness.
                   --Leighton Pierce, Mar. 20002




Image2002, 11:00, mini-DV, color/stereo sound

Dissipation, dissolution, changing states. It is easy to apply these concepts to something like water; much more difficult when considering emotion and family relationships.

Selected festival screenings:

  • European Media Arts festival
  • Athens Film Festival
  • Big Muddy Film festival (Special Jury Award)


Fall (3 Parts)

Image2002, 13:00, miniDV, color/stereo sound

A struggle to hold on to the world, the various worlds we try to inhabit.

Shot in the south of France during the fall of 2001.

Selected festival screenings:

  • Ann Arbor Film Festival
  • San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Athens Film Festival
  • Toronto Images :Honorable Mention
  • Dallas Video Festival
  • Mill Valley Film festival
  • Louisville Film Festival



Water Seeking its Level

Image2002, 5:30, color/ stereo sound

Synopsis: Dad and daughter at the water race of an abandoned monastery. The scene pivots on her words:“Look dad,” she says. He IS looking while he waits for the resolution of the moment-- water through her fingers.

Selected festival screenings:

  • Media City, Windsor, Canada, Grand Prize
  • Dallas Video festival
  • Montreal International Festival of New Cinema, new Media
  • Athens Film festival
  • Black Maria Film festival ,2nd Place award
  • Indie Forum, Korea


Veiled Red

Image2002, 5:00, color/stereo sound

Made in the weeks after 9/11, 2001, this is a meditation on resurgent nationalism and a distressing march toward war. The red in the US flag represents blood.






The Back Steps

2001, 5:30, color/stereo sound

A small moment from a children's Halloween party is taken as material for an exploration of folded time.

Essentially, this is a very simple piece. Two girls, dressed up for Halloween, sit on some steps then get up and run away. The action, originally shot at a slow frame rate then slowed again, is fragmented and looped, then Imagetime-slipped and layered. This originated on a digital video camera, and was digitally slowed and layered. No other digital processing was used. The delicate soundtrack was designed to serve as both a counterpoint to and an anchor for the image. The challenge , as always, was to create sounds that seemed to "come from" the image while maintaining a life of their own as compositional elements.

Time is, in fact, what I see as my main material. THE BACK STEPS is a demonstration of that particular interests. The image loops but also progresses forward. That is fairly easy to see. However, the sound, while having looping elements, has a compositional structure that changes throughout the piece. I imagine most pieces as a series of overlain arcs, each of a different length and height and each representing a different durational element in the piece. Another way to imagine this is to think of a mechanical clock with many different internal rhythms, all of which move the hands steadily forward.

Originally conceived as a "cinematic "projection, The Back Steps, has also been presented as a looped installation.



Image2000, 8 min., video, color, stereo sound

Looking outward, this is a segment from a series revolving around the relationship between my son (10 yrs old) and daughter (4 yrs old). Their relationship is too complicated and too dynamic to understand. That I know. This piece doesn't try to explain anything other than the fact of an overlapping acoustic environment and proximate activities.

Looking inward, WOOD is also a reflection on the many overlapping rhythms of the body.

Selected festival screenings:

  • San Francisco International, 2000
  • Big Muddy, 2000
  • Black Maria, 2000
  • Athens International, 2000
  • Dallas Video festival
  • Quebec Pan-American Festival, Impakt (Utrecht)
  • European Media Art festival
  • Toronto Images Film Festival
  • Montreal festival of New Cinema
  • New Media
  • Atlanta Film Festival
  • Louisville Film Festival


Memories of Water (#21, 6, 27)

Image1997, VHS, color/so, 9.5min.

The partly diaristic, partly poetic pieces are the first three completed segments in a long series of films and videos. They all tend toward the meditative in their exploration of water as a perceptual nodal point in daily life.




Image1996, 3 minutes, video, color/stereo i

The videomaker was very tired for the 18 months prior to the making of this video. This short piece hints at some of the reasons.

Selected festival screenings:

  • San Francisco Golden Gate Awards.
  • Oberhausen Short Film festival


Principles of Harmonic Motion

1991, VHS, color/so, 22 min.

Part 1: If With Those Eyes and Ears

Part 2: No Green at Ease in the Margins

Part 3: Principles of Harmonic Motion and Epilogue - White Picket Fence

While not addressing the issue in a very overt manner, this piece has something to do with the thrilling and "awful" process of actively engaging in perception and how we oscillate between forgetting and remembering that activeness as we age. In PRINCIPLES OF HARMONIC MOTION, I take a painterly approach to the image and rely on a subtle but carefully composed stereo soundtrack to amplify the sense of physical and psychological space. The images, sounds and structure are sometimes somewhat abstract while preserving a strong grounding in representation. Before the entire piece was finished I released parts 1 and 2 separately.

Selected festival screenings:

  • Independent Focus, WNET
  • Infermental
  • Cash Award, Athens Film Festival
  • Cash Award, Great Lakes Film Festival
  • OsnabrÄck Media Arts Festival
  • Black Maria Film and Video Festival
  • Cash Award, Humboldt Film Festival
  • Cash Award, Charlotte Film Festival
  • Cash Award, Sinking Creek Film Festival


On the Road Going Through

1987, video, color/sound, 15 min.

While interweaving complex images, a dense stereo soundtrack and brief interviews with local people, ON THE ROAD GOING THROUGH is designed to provide a portrait of a fragment of rural life in Iowa. With traffic on the road functioning as the drone, ON THE ROAD GOING THROUGH creates a meditative, impressionistic view of a composite small town in Iowa. While actually shot in many towns, the tape implies a unified single town that is, after all, consistent with the subjects' shared concerns. The people talk about kids, dogs, traffic and storms as traffic repeatedly passes by in the background.

Selected festival screenings:

  • Independent Focus, WNET
  • Second Place, Marin Film Festival
  • Director's Choice, Sinking Creek Film & Video Festival
  • Director's Choice, Black Maria Film and Video Festival
  • BACA
  • NO-TV