Grain (9:23), 2016
Mountain Home Studio was built by environmental architect Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) for his wife, dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin in 1952. The studio is located deep within the enduring redwood and oak trees, on the flank of Mount Tamalpais, Marin, California. Grain is a portrait of its dance deck, with narration provided by Anna and Lawrence’s daughter, Daria Halprin, an actress, dancer and teacher herself. She and Anna also co-founded Tamalpa Institute, a non-profit organisation recognised for its unique approach to movement based arts education and therapy.
The film set out to align the historic dance deck to the context of the Californian counterculture movement, through specifically tracing its community, the philosophy taught there and the pedagogy of movement itself. What has evolved instead is a more personal investment in the remarkable history of the Halprin family and their diverse and shared knowledge, manifest in the environment that is Mountain Home Studio. Focusing on the infrastructure of the dance deck and its manner of construction, which was intended to affect as little change on the structure of the mountain, we see the careful grafting of natural materials in symbiosis.
The voiceover from Daria passes between attribution of ‘his’ and ‘her’. Referencing Anna and Lawrence, she builds tender impressions of her parents whist detailing their individual perspectives on social experience, the natural environment, processes of design, and corporeality. Lawrence, Anna and Daria Halrpin share a common language of ‘scoring’; Lawrence developed a theory called the RSVP cycles to visually notate or score experience, design, and movement. As this system looked to understand process itself it could be ascribed to any aspect of life and living; a Utopian project with practical foundations.