Pierce works with perceptual and emotional interfaces in architectural space. His multichannel and single channel video/sound installations explore the collision and intermixing that occurs between multiple images over time, across space, and within the associative mind of the viewer.




watch video document  

2007, 6 channel video, 4 channel audio installation
Commissioned by the Luce Gallery of Art, Cornell College,  Mt Vernon, Iowa

Convection  is Leighton Pierce's latest installation in his 'edge of air' series.
This piece consists of 6 separate video streams projected onto five 3-dimensional objects arranged like a large jewel in the center of the gallery.  Since viewers can walk around all sides of the clustered projections, no more than 4 video streams are visible from any one vantage point at any one time.  At times, certain clusters of images meld into one large image; at other times, each stream is separate.  The visual relationships among the separate images are always shifting as the viewer moves around the projections.  Four channels of sound expand and refocus the imagery.

Through the use of rich cascading imagery against the counterpoint of the soundtrack, and through the use of multiple projections, Pierce disintegrates the projection plane, allowing viewers to embody the perceptions of the video solidly within themselves. His work encourages a different kind of viewing and listening-one in which listening and looking inward matters as much as looking outward. Pierce works to engage the fringes of the viewer's narrativizing attention by creating a painterly temporal experience that is emotionally evocative without ever engaging in storytelling or defaulting to pure abstraction. It is the fragility of the viewer's own emotional associations as they interact with the flow of images and sounds that is his raw material.

Pierce has eliminated "the shot" as a discrete entity. He creates continuous interwoven streams of cascading images rather than a sequence of edited shots.   It is no longer possible to see the seams that tie individual images together.   It is impossible to find the moment when a shot begins or ends-the viewing experience is one of finding oneself in a moment without knowing how one got there or being able to anticipate where one will go next.  The virtuosity resides in Pierce's sense of rhythm, duration, and repetition as a gateway to the viewers' own curiosity and emotional imagination/memory.


Warm Occlusion

2005-2006 Image 13 channel video, 8 channel audio installation Link to clip

Leighton Pierce’s Warm Occlusion (2005) is a multi-channel video and sound composition designed for the 5500 sq. ft. North Gallery of the University of Iowa Museum of Art. The architectural features of the gallery - six 6’x 3’x 11’ columns arrayed in two rows - serve as sites for twelve 9ft. tall projected video loops. Images wrap all four sides of each column creating ‘video monoliths.’

The experience is one of diffuse association among the images and the columns as the viewer shifts vantage points while moving through the gallery, never able to see all images at once. A broad sound field envelops and redirects the viewer. The loops are each 13 minutes long. The viewing experience is typically longer due to the polyvalent nature of this installation.

  • 12 DVD loops projected onto opposing corners of six white columns (3’x 6’x 11‘), 2 projections per column, in a 5500 sq. ft. black room with a reflective black floor.
  • One DVD loop projected onto a hanging 11’x 9’ rear/front projection screen.
  • Eight channels of audio, one speaker per column and on 2 perimeter walls.
  • Alternative configurations would be designed to coordinate with architectural specifications (minimum of 6 projections, 4 channels of audio).


2002-2006  Installation version of single channel piece 



3 channel video installation, The Exploratorium, San Francisco; 1 channel looped installation Musée d’art contemporaine, Montréal.

A clear glass marble acts as a wide-angle lens that both condenses and inverts the world. The marvel is that this image of the world can be contained between two fingers. This piece, then, ends up being a way to examine the struggle to hold on to the world, to the various worlds we try to inhabit. This was shot and edited in Southern France in the few months after 9–11.



Image4 channel video installation, 8 channel audio

Element 1: The Permanence of Paper
Each projection presents a cascade of images in warm oranges and browns. The images–a hand, reflections in a toaster, walking feet, letters written and folded, a face twisting out of the frame, are constantly moving and melding into each other. The visceral effect of the piece is generated by the rhythm and pace of the image flow, the shifting synchronous relationships between the loops, and the changing patterns of light and dark leveraged against the rhythm, specificity, and stability of the soundscape. The scale of the images, their fluid nature, and the width of the visual field, work against a narrative path. Too vast to readily assimilate, the piece exists at the fringe of understanding.

Element 2: The Edge of the Air
The Edge of the Air is a representation of a body existing in different states of matter (water and air). As the body/matter relationship is increasingly abstracted in the piece, the viewer’s own body and mind experiences both subtle and abrupt perceptual and physical change. Hands are pushed and pulled by the blue green surf while they seem to embrace the center image of a figure oscillating between emergence and submergence. The soundtrack also invites the viewer’s attention away from visual concreteness. The Edge of the Air is about the validity of multiple worlds coexisting but never quite overlapping. The body is the threshold that manifests shifts in the mind as it interacts with the external world.

Element 3: Three Ideas of Flight
A kaleidoscopic red and white spin of a girl with an umbrella, a cascading and layered green and blue arc of a girl on a swing, and the delicate sinking gesture of a girl in the glow from a Vermeer-like window, create a rhythmic counterpoint to an atmospheric soundtrack. The girl follows three trajectories: moving under the camera and away from the rain, flying up into the air and back to the ground on a swing, and gazing at a window as she progressively sinks out of frame.


The Back Steps

Image Single channel looped installation.

quicktime clip 

Wright Musem, Beloit College, Beloit Wisconsin, 1/11/07--3/17/07; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, The Disembodied Spirit, 9/03-12/03; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, March 5, 2004—May 23, 2004; Austin Museum of Art, September 2004—November 28, 2004