Peter Rose: Witness


The Oculus Opens (2021) - 8:00min. digital video
A visual tone poem in six-dimensions to be seen with an IPhone in a set of Google Cardboard Glasses. Available at

Memories of Shared Air (2021) - 2:20min. digital video
A reflection on the nature of public space in the time of Covid. To be seen in 3D with an IPhone in a pair of Google Cardboard Glasses, available at In 2D at

A Sign of the Times (2021) - 1:48min. video installation
A veiled metaphor for the instabilities of our times. To be seen in 3D with an IPhone in a pair of Google Cardboard Glasses, available at

Foit Yet Cleem Triavith (2020) - 2min. video
A manic multi-dimensional tone poem to be seen with an IPhone and a pair of Google Cardboard Glasses. 2D version at

Towards a Six-Dimensional Cinema (2018) - 60min. video installation
Experiments in multi-dimensional cinema using a variety of stereoscopic rigs. To be viewed using a pair of Google Cardboard Glasses, available at Best Buy!

The Indeserian Tablets (2014) - 28 min. digital video
An annotated nocturnal portrait of a vanished culture- its stories, scripture, technology, religious practice, art and poetry as reconstructed from fragments found in the archive at Kiens. Offered in the spirit of Calvino and Borges with a nod to Greenaway.

Solaristics (2013) - 9:40min. video
The phenomenology of the black sun; an anthology of sightings; an ecoparable

Studies in Transfalumination (2008) - 5:30min. video
exploits modified flashlights and stripped down video projectors to explore the visual complexities of the ordinary world: a tunnel, a clump of grass, a discarded table, the underside of a bridge, fog, a piece of rock, and a tree. All images were shot in real time- there is no animation. The video is the third in a series of works that explore light and darkness.

Conflation: Livlng Above the Store (2008) - 32min. sound/video installation
A collaborative video installation by Mark Campbell, Peter Rose, and Anthony Angelicola that offers a complex, richly metaphoric reflection on the meanings of the urban/suburban environment. Campbell has built an elaborate architectural model that both mocks and celebrates suburban topography. Rose enclads this structure with a suite of video images that engage the work in a surprising variety of ways, counterpointing a sound score by Angelicola that offers a subtle and nuanced paeon to the ambient sonics of the city.

Odysseus in Ithaca (2006) - 5min. video
Odysseus moors his boat in an alien architectural machine, a labyrinth with echoes of De Chirico and Escher- a place of mystery and power where the rules of visual perspective are transformed and another space erupts. Commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Embodying Thoreau (2005) - 6min. video
documents and celebrates three works of public art that have been installed in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia. The projects, designed by sculptor Ed Levine, were commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association and drew on the writings and thoughts of Henry David Thoreau. My ambition was to identify the poetics of Levine’s spaces and to translate them into cinema, making a video that would serve as a demonstration of the power of public art to provoke and enlighten. The video examines the philosophical, material, visual, and semantic character of the project, employs Thoreau’s language in inventive ways, and uses interesting visual strategies for talking about the issues of inside and outside, form and function, seeing and being that animate the work

Pneumenon (2003) - 5min. two-channel video installation
Was commissioned and exhibited by the Fabric Workshop and Museum. It is a two-channel video installation that offers dramatic visible metaphors for ideas about appearance and reality, sign and referent, cause and effect. The heart of the piece is a video shot on the Rio Grande in southern Texas. A blue tarpaulin hangs from a line of rope and sways in an intermittent breeze. The shadows from the leaves on a tree in the distance are projected onto this surface by the sun, and they grow and decline in size as the tarp sways back and forth towards the camera.When the wind occasionally lifts the tarp, the entire landscape behind is revealed- a tree, some RV vehicles, a road. And then the curtain falls again, fluttering.This image is projected from behind onto a large silk screen that hangs in front of the viewing audience. A small fan is positioned in front of this screen and has been slaved to the chapter numbers in the DVD so that it goes on and off on a pre-programmed basis. When it does so, the projection screen itself (onto which the image of the tarp is being thrown) rises in a complex furl and reveals a hitherto unseen image projected on the back wall of the space. This is a piece about phenomenon and noumenon, about air, wind, breath, and light, and it operates at an odd juncture between video art and a theatre of objects.

The Geosophist’s Tears (2002) - 8min. video
was shot during a seven week cross country road trip in the aftermath of Sept. 11th. The work is symphonic in ambition and offers a complex meditation on the iconography of the American landscape. Drawing on the strategems of the early geosophists, who believed that through the operation of a mysterious instrument landscapes might be placed in an emotionally meaningful correspondance with one another, the work uses a variety of visual algorithms to propose and discover surprising structural features of the uninhabited American landscape. Sounds for the work were produced by a remarkable antique slide rule, dating from 1895, that was untouched for over forty years and whose peculiar threnody is both mournful and rhapsodic. In its fractured and phantasmagoric reworkings of the horizon, the work offers us unstable metaphors for the state of the union and a respectful homage to the traditions of painting. The video was shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou.

Omen (2001) - 10min. video
is a set of invocatory stanzas, encounters with the underworld, calligraphic illuminations, flames of shadow: a premonition.It presents us with a series of slow transformations that elude language and that can only be watched with patience, simple moments of observation that witness mysterious conjugations of light and shadow and that seem to speak the language of metaphor. Linking these are a series of performances in which beams of light are used to “write space”, to provide dimensional discoveries through a process that is akin to both drawing and dancing. Sound is extremely important. There are moments of grand opera and there are faint suggestions of music heard way in the back of a distant space and that are on the edge of inaudibility. The viewer is carried along by a current of sounds, images, ideas, and metaphors into an unknown territory of feeling. Omen has been shown at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and at the San Francisco Cinemateque.

The Darkening (2000) - 8min. video
is a Stygian night journey animated by unknown languages, illuminated speech, and mysterious conjugations of light. The workis animated by the idea that if language is to give some shape to thought, it is language as invocation, rather than denotation, that we must consider, and from consequent experiments with a form of performative image-making that integrates speech, gesture, sound and light in order to conjure images through a kind of cinematic incantation. It has been shown at the European Media Art Festival, at the Oberhausen International Film Festival, at USC’s Art In Motion festival, and in the Black Maria Film and Video Festival. See:

Rotary Almanac (2000) - 4min. digital video
A two channel video that presents a complex moving collage of landscape imagery through the seasons. The work was exhibited as part of the Delaware Art Museum Biennial in 2000.

Understory (1997) - 8min. video/performance/installation
For the past three years Rose has been participating in underground Demetrian rituals that celebrate the solstices and equinoxes of the sun. These ceremonies take place in the storm sewers and tunnels that run beneath the city of Philadelphia and have come to serve as the rite of passage for a peculiar urban subculture. Described as a cross between “a ceremony and an incantation”, the work presents us with a story-like skein of images that suggest the journey of a figure that walks in water, the speech of fire, and the mystery of vision. Understory was originally commissioned as a performance work by the American Music Theatre Festival and has been screened at the Osnabruck Media Art Festival. See the entire video at:

Virtual Objects and Embodied Images (1997) video installations
A document of a series of collaborations between sculptor Jeanne Jaffe and Peter Rose. The work entails the site-specific projection of moving video images onto complex dimensional structures that have been fabricated using paper molding techniques. The three video installations described in the video were on view at The Kitchen in 1998, at the DFN Gallery in 1999, and at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in 2000.

Metalogue (1996) - 3min. digital video
has been described as a cross between a “speech” and a “fireworks display.” Digital editing techniques have been used to reflect and refract a complex monolog about memory, time, and language. By embedding the corresponding gestures in a spectacular diachronic array, Rose creates a new form of poetry. Metalogue won a Bronze Award at the New York Short Film and Video Festival and has been shown at the Oberhausen International Film Festival, the Hamburg Film Festival, and the World Wide Video Festival. See, also, at:

Overture (1995) - 6min. sound/video installation
In 1994 the City of Philadelphia sent out a request for proposals for a permanent public art installation in a 500 ft. long corridor at the Philadelphia International Airport. This tape presents the proposal that was eventually selected and funded: an immense projected video image that superimposes live images of the arriving passengers (as they ascend on an escalator to Customs) over pre-recorded collaged images of the City. The work was to serve as a kind of annunciation of the arriving passenger, greeting them with a series of musical fanfares and ushering them into a re-imagined Philadelphia

Pavilion in the Trees (1994) - 4min. video
was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association to document a public art project by sculptor Martin Puryear. The video explores the architectonic poetics of the work and its relationship with its surroundings and has been broadcast extensively over PBS affiliate WHYY.

The Gift (1993) - 6min. Audio
was commissioned by New American Radio and Performing Arts and was adapted from a serial bedtime story Rose told his daughter over a period of six years. It is a parable that explores the conflict between language and innocence, between sounds and ideas, and that offers a strange connection between time, language, and self. View also at:

Sleeping Woman (1992) - 4min. video
is a poetic documentary about a mysterious text that appeared on the bank of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in 1991. The text, entitled Sleeping Woman, was written by nationally known poet Stephen Berg and painted on the stone retaining wall beside the river by artist Tom Chimes. A meditation on death, nature, and language, the piece stretches for over 1100 feet along the river. The Ruins at Esku Killar Iva is a linked series of visual essays that consider the genesis of the work, the physical splendor of the piece, and the personal and cultural contexts of the project. Also viewable at:

Genesis (1991) - 4min. Single channel video installation
recounts a true story about embodiment "told" using voice synthesis and animation display on a MacIntosh computer. It was installed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 1991. A computer is swaddled in blankets in a small baby carriage. A text appears on the screen that tells the (true) story of a woman who miscarries and keeps the fetus in her refrigerator. The narrator’s voice is artificial, generated by a speech synthesis chip, but it gains in emotive and affective tone as the story develops. This is a very unsettling work that raises questions about technology, virtual communication, ethics, and psychology. Viewable at:

Ben Franklin Dreams of His Immortal Soul (1990) - 20min. video
is a three-channel video installation that was commissioned on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Franklin's death. The work presents a contemporary dreamscape of Franklin's thoughts on research, invention, politics, mischief, women, electricity, and language, and was installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1991. Following are summaries of the seven episodes that run on one of the three channels:

  • BF Dreams of Metaphysics 3:15
    A solitary traveller moves through a river landscape. It is chaotic, electrified, metaphysical. Electrical flow is identified and analyzed and instructions are given for navigating through virtual space. A Rosicrucian metaphor is proposed.

  • BF Dreams of Erotic Bliss 4:00
    The erotic subtext of Poor Richard's Almanac is blatantly announced using two pieces of rope, music by Bach, and text by Franklin.

  • BF Dreams an Electrical Hoax 1:00
    Plays off of Franklin's infamous Polly Baker hoax, a cunning fraud by which Franklin argued strongly for a pro-natalist position. An inert optical toy is examined as if it were pre-conscious fetal tissue. The politics of research.

  • BF Dreams a New Music 2:15
    Contemporary and tribal methods of sound production are juxtaposed to suggest a transtechnological duet, a cultural concatenation, a riff. (CF. Franklin's invention of the glass harmonica.)

  • BF Dreams of an Instrument of Vision 2:00
    An apparition analyzes the nature of its insubstantiality. A scientific demonstration of projection and fragmentation, split vision beyond bifocals.

  • BF Dreams of Revolt 3:40
    A post-electrical revolutionary enactment. An operatic manifesto presented by the electro-magnetic waves of the universe in which they renounce the agency they have provided for human objectives. A perverse fusion of Franklin's political and electrical interventions.

  • BF Dreams of His Immortal Soul 3:00
    The camera rises along the suspension cables of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Ascent, omen, transfiguration, dissolution; an afterlife in language.

Siren (1990) - 14min. video installation
is a two-channel video work that proposes an "operatic" rendering of W.H.Hudson's "Green Mansions," a strange tale about journeys in the jungle, mysterious voices, and metaphysical tongues. The sound track is entirely vocal, a collaborative effort by David Moss and Peter Rose, with Jessie Jane Lewis and Anya Rose, and the computer-animated text/libretto was generated on a MacIntosh computer. The work premiered as a two-channel performance at the New Music America Festival in 1988 in Miami, was performed in Paris in 1989, and was installed as a two-channel laser disc installation at the Phila. Museum of Art from April to July 1990. Viewable at:

Foit Yet Cleem Triavith (1988) - 2min. video
(an anagram for “The Verticality of Time”) uses a text about the nature of time, perverse visual quotations from art history, and vocal improvisation by David Moss and Peter Rose to generate a kind of rap video. Viewable at:

Babel (1987) - 17min. audio/video/film/text
uses processed voices, generic babble, kinetic texts, and misleading film and video images to link the linguistic implications of a third nostril to the Tower of Babel and the Strategic Defense Initiative. The tape offers a critique of language as a source of authority and as a form of technology. It was presented at the Polyphonix Festival in Paris, at the New Music America Festival in Philadelphia, at the National Video Festival in Los Angeles, and at the World Music Days festival in Cologne, W. Germany. See the entire piece at:

Fingerspan (1987) - 8min. video
a document of the fabrication, installation, and location of “Fingerspan,” a site-specific public art work by Jody Pinto that was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association

SpiritMatters (1984) - 6min. 16 mm, silent
is a silent monologue on the simultaneous perception of space and time. The film was constructed without a camera by writing directly on clear celluloid, and then "translated" by refilming the resulting strips on a light table so that they appear as "subtitles" beneath the original inscription. The film functions as both process and object-an interactive experiment in reading, writing, and seeing. SpiritMatters has won prizes at the Baltimore, Ann Arbor, and Experimental Film Festivals and is distributed by Canyon Cinema. Complete work available at:

Digital Speech (1984) - 13min. video, color, sound
uses a traveler's anecdote, a perverse variant of a classic Zen parable, as a vehicle for an exploration of language, thought, and gesture. The tape plays with the nature of narrative, with ways of telling, performing, and illustrating, and uses nonsense language, scat singing, and video rescan for comic comment. The tape won the Festival Award at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Athens Award at the Athens Video Festival and is in the video collections of the Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and Harvard University. Gesticulation is by percussionist Jim Meneses. Complete work visible at:

The Pressures of the Text (1983) - 17min. video, color, sound
integrates direct address, invented languages, ideographic subtitles, sign language, and simultaneous translation to investigate the feel and form of sense, the shifting boundaries between meaning and meaninglessness. A parody of art/critspeak, educational instruction, gothic narrative, and pornography, it has been performed as a live work at major media centers and new music festivals in the US and Europe. The piece was written, directed and delivered by Peter Rose; co-directed by Jessie Jane Lewis; with sign language and ideographic symbols by Jessie Jane Lewis; and with English simultran by Fred Curchack. The work was featured in the 1985 Whitney Biennial, won a Red Ribbon at the American Film Festival, and has been awarded major prizes at festivals around the world. For the complete work please go to:

Secondary Currents (1982) - 16min. 16 mm, B&W, sound
is a film about the relationships between the mind and language. Delivered by an improbable narrator who speaks an extended assortment of nonsense, it is an "imageless" film in which the shifting relationships between voice-over commentary and subtitled narration constitute a peculiar duet for voice, thought, speech, and sound. A kind of comic opera, the film is a dark metaphor for the order and entropy of language and has been the subject of a number of articles on the use of language in the arts. Percussion is by Jim Meneses. To see the complete film please go to:

The man who could not see far enough (1981) - 33min. 16 mm film, color, sound
uses literary, structural, autobiographical, and performance metaphors to construct a series of tableaux that evoke the act of vision, the limits of perception, and the rapture of space. Spectacular moving multiple images; a physical, almost choreographic sense of camera movement; and massive, resonant sound have inspired critics to call it "stunning" and "hallucinatory." The film ranges in subject from a solar eclipse shot off the coast of Africa to a hand-held filmed ascent of the Golden Gate Bridge, and moves, in spirit, from the deeply personal to the mythic. "The man who could not see far enough" has won major awards of distinction at numerous festivals both here and abroad, including the Oberhausen, Edinburgh, American, and Sydney Film Festivals, has been broadcast nationally, and is in collections at Centre Pompidou in Paris and at Image Forum in Tokyo. (Note: the movies viewed here are excerpts)

Analogies: studies in the movement of time (1977) - 14min. 16 mm film, color, sound
uses a variety of multiple screen formats to create an intriguing series of visual riddles. The film consists of a series of simple camera movements that are rendered "diachronically"- several different aspects of the action are presented on the screen at once. By playing with time delays between these images, new kinds of space, action, gesture, and temporality have been found. Generated from structural principles, the film is both lyrical and sensual and provokes a new understanding of time and cinema.

Incantation (1970) - 13min. 16 mm film, color, sound
Using rapidly edited, superimposed images of plants, trees, water, the sun and the moon, Incantation weaves a dynamic tapestry of organic forms and textures, combining its images with a fierce rhythmic intensity so as to suggest a kind of natural force. The film was shot entirely in the camera, in 8mm, according to a pre-arranged, music-like score, and then blown up to 16mm using a home-made optical printer. The accompanying sound track, a chant taken from Islamic liturgy, is breath-based and brings the film into the form of a prayer. Incantation was shown as part of the Whitney Museum's New American Filmmakers Series.

Study in Diachronic Motion (1970) - 3min. 16 mm, color, silent
is a first experiment in diachronic motion: the simultaneous presentation of an action from several different perspectives in time. Study in Diachronic Motion is in the circulating collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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