Taking aesthetic cues from Robert Smithson’s 1967 photo essay “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey”, the narrative mapping structures of James Benning’s 1995 film “Deseret” and Patrick Keiller’s 2010 film “Robinson in Ruins”, as well as philosophical perspectives from Timothy Morton’s 2016 book “Dark Ecology”, this film combines contemporary critical landscape and ecological discourses from the viewpoint of a native Houstonian. It traces a linear sequence of spaces through a conceptual terrain, expanding from a ditch at the western edge of Houston, Texas to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. Through spoken and written narration and evocations of deep time is intermingled with personal, local, regional, and global histories. Perspectives shift from first to third person, to that of imagined lost indigenous voices and observations of the countless nonhuman species which share this city and its environs with the varied current and potential future human communities. The one hour experimental documentary film will be a series of mostly fixed views along the Buffalo Bayou, along its shore, underwater, and from above, with occasional forays down linked tributary bayous, creeks, and concrete flood control infrastructures. The city’s most famous monuments – its arcing, intersecting freeway flyovers, looming corporate towers, and mile-long refineries, flaring and scintillating day and night – line the bayou through over 80 miles of a landscape best defined as beyond comprehension.
Steve Rowell is a filmmaker and artist who works with photography, moving image, sound, installation, maps, and spatial concepts to produce complex multicomponent projects. His practice investigates terrains of perception, nonhuman intelligence, extinction, and technology, exploring the landscape as a site of political imagination. Steve contextualizes the morphology of the built environment with the surrounding medium of Nature, appropriating the methods and tools of the geographer and archaeologist.
Awards and honors that Steve has earned include:
– the MacDowell Fellowship (2021-22)
– the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (Film, 2019)
– grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (Film, 2016) and Creative Capital (Emerging Fields, 2013)
– artist residencies at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, at the Villa Aurora Berlin, and Fogo Island Arts
– visiting fellowships at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and Newcastle University
– and the Erna Plachte scholarship at the University of Oxford
He has collaborated with SIMPARCH (Chicago, 2003-2009), The Office of Experiments (London, 2009-present), and The Center for Land Use Interpretation (Los Angeles, 2001-2013). Born in Houston, Steve has been based in Los Angeles, Oxford, Berlin, Washington, D.C., and Chicago over the past twenty years. Currently, he lives in Minneapolis, which is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the indigenous Dakota and Ojibwe peoples, where he teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is the founder of Gegenschein Media, the production company behind his moving image work.