WOOD

a film by Leighton Pierce

SHORT / COLOR / STEREO MIX / 8 MIN / USA / 2000

Looking outward, this is a segment from a series revolving around the relationship between my son (then 10 yrs old) and daughter (then 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.

REVIEW

Wood feels like a dream you had long ago. You see human figures and other shapes, and you attempt to recall. But, the more you try, the less you remember. Each attempt fails, and so this fragmented memory exists as such, in bits and pieces. In these fragments, you see two young figures. One, you see briefly. The other is more visible throughout, except you never see his face. He will never look at you. This film explores time and space as experienced by two children. As a film, however, Wood wonders about them, too. Be this a dream or distant memory, we will never fully remember.

The space explored is a backyard. In the opening shot, we see a little girl look back at us through a window and walk away. When children are young and completely dependent, they seldom leave their parents’ side. But a fleeting glimpse, we never see her again. Still, those few seconds make us curious and keep us wondering. On a sunny weekend afternoon, a boy saws a tree branch. Heat and smoke from a fire fill the frame, and the permeating haze creates distortion. A moving camera and slow shutter further adds to this dreamlike state. Shapes alter slightly. They change enough that we question them again. Proximity lessens as children grow older. The older boy is seemingly near adolescence. And so we only see his arms or legs as he saws a branch. When the boy uses a garden hose to fill bowls we do not see him at all. Instead, we just see bowls on the cement ground or the hose laying on a picnic table. Near the film’s end, we see a swing in motion. Next, a reflection of a small pool of water on a picnic table is the final shot. The swing set is empty.

Pierce’s unique soundscape allows the visual environment a special surrealism. This makes sense. Often, when we struggle to piece together moments past, you just hear a kind word, rain falling, or maybe laughter.  Currently the Acting Dean of the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Leighton Pierce has had an illustrious career that spans over three decades. His film Wood poses more questions that it can ever answer. And yet, this is why it works so well.