Quest For Beauty: John Yeon

This 4K video is a 3:50 version of the original 6:30 loop featured in the exhibition Quest For Beauty: The Architecture, Landscapes, and Collections of John Yeon organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Randy Gragg.

Largely self taught, and working independently, no architect has influenced Oregon so broadly as John Yeon. A planner, conservationist, historic preservationist, art collector, and urban activist, as well as one of the state's most gifted architectural designers, Yeon was one of the progenitors of the Northwest Regional Style of architecture, with his Watzek House being the prime example. He also stands among the region's most influential conservationists, working to preserve some of the Northwest’s most treasured vistas—the Columbia River Gorge, Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast, and Olympic National Park.

A major part of the exhibition, this video records the changing seasons at The Shire, a 78-acre work of landscape design by Yeon in the Columbia River Gorge. Sitting directly across the river from Multnomah Falls, it employs the theory of 'captured views,' incorporating the Falls and basalt cliffs into the design of the pastoral, semi-wild space. 

Gallery photos courtesy of Portland Art Museum.  Photo: Ben Cort


Photography: Chris Hornbecker
Direction, Animation: Matt Eller
Audio: Joel Pickard 
Technical Director: Donald Newlands
Colorist : George Costakis
Producer: Steve Rauner

Client: Portland Art Museum



Over the course of a year, photographer Chris Hornbecker documented the landscape, capturing 69,000+ still images. Those images were then edited down to sequences that captured the passing of time most succinctly and dramatically. The final movie consists of only 140 still images.

Matt Eller’s task, as requested by the curator, was to "evoke a slowly evolving painting," which required an approach that differed substantially from traditional time-lapse video. To compress time while avoiding the usual frantic nature of time compression, each video frame consists of between four and twelve images overlain atop of each other at varying opacity values. Each image is onscreen for at least 6 seconds, with some images partially visible for as long as 20 seconds.

Joel Pickard scored this version to parallel the vision of Yeon: clean, warm, organic, unhurried and in sync with nature. The musical elements are almost entirely derived from a few simple passages of violin and cello that were recorded and manipulated.

Donald Newlands at Newlands and Company handled all data management, rendering, and compression. George Costakis at Pinata Color brought the images to life. Special thanks to Steve Rauner, Executive Producer and Partner at North, who assembled this team.


Instagram loop: