Sunday 10 July 2011

Louis Lee (2006)

Director: Steve Weiss

My favourite No Festival Required screening of the year is always the selection of short films shown at the Phoenix Art Museum. Here's Selection 2011.
At Selection 2011, film programmer Steve Weiss suggested that the theme of this year's films was self. He doesn't consciously pick a theme, it just emerges gradually from his choices, but having programmed these wonderful selections of shorts at the Phoenix Art Museum for many years, it's only appropriate that this year's eventual theme would allow him to include one of his own shorts, the first of his films I've ever seen. It's a short documentary, almost entirely visual, put together as a tribute to the work of Phoenix native Louis Lee in creating a rock garden which looks unlike any rock garden you've seen. The work took decades, probably because there was no end goal, just a creativity let loose to do what it would that ended only with Lee's death in 2006. While the camerawork is inconsistent, possibly shot at different times and with different equipment, it ably provides us with a vision of why this rock garden is worthy of capture on film.

I can certainly see why it has captured so much interest. It's insanely ornate but very organic, reminding in many ways of an outsider artist's take on Antoni Gaudí. Watching the camera roll through the garden reminded me of walking through the streets and parks of Barcelona, seeing art everywhere, occasionally structured but more often somehow grown. There's no common structural design here, just rocks arranged in different ways to meet different locational needs, combined with pots, trinkets and statues. Nothing is consistent except the overriding vision of taking all this stuff and creating something artistic with it. The film feels much the same way, with the roaming camerawork mixed with ethnic music and some clips from interviews Steve Gompf made with Lee in 1994. The last one worked particularly well, bringing a sense of humour to the piece that the audience reacted to. So what else haven't you shown us yet, Steve?

Louis Lee can be viewed at YouTube.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Hal,

All my personal videos and film to video cam be found at