Online catalogue / Sasha Pirker :

John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel
John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel
AT / US / 2007
10 min.

"Ten days after I stopped writing pornographic stories, I met William Burroughs," is how the voice over in Sasha Pirker's short film begins an autobiographical story. The picture shows a few views of wind turbines in the barren area around the spa of Desert Hot Springs, which is located about 150 kilometers east of Los Angeles. Like the person which belongs to the voice, the building at which the camera stops is revealed gradually. It's the Desert Hot Springs Motel (built in 1947), which was designed by the architect John Lautner (1911-1994), whose UFO-like Malin Residence (1960; also called the Chemosphere) is one of the icons of postwar American architecture.

And the gravelly voice, apparently that of an older man, tells the story of writer Steve Lowe, who purchased the motel in 2000, renovated it and started accommodating guests there for the first time in decades. The video doesn't show the building's architecture in the style of a professional brochure. There are brief glances at details, as if a potential customer were inspecting a room before staying there for a night: the concrete-block walls, the windows that open up onto a garden, the roof's red iron trusses that were inspired by the shape of the nearby mountains, the lush vegetation. The reason behind the parallel audio and video tracks is revealed gradually. The building and its owner come closer, as if they had been waiting for one another.

Lowe's eventful life melds with the architecture's fantastic, optimistic and playfully functionalistic basic mood, which exudes the essence of California Modernism. Pirker was successful in her attempt to visually translate Lautner's idea, which was tailored to the needs of the guests, and the design which concentrates on the genius loci.
(Matthias Dusini)

A film by:
- Sasha Pirker

- Essay

original language:
- english

Available Prints:
- Betacam SP PAL

price: 40 EUR


rental conditions

more on Austrian Independent Film & Video Database:
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- Biographie: Sasha Pirker