Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Aug. 22, 2003
"Superstring": Fully BakedCreative Research Laboratory at Flatbed World Headquarters, through Sept. 9
Reception: Saturday, Aug. 23, 7-9pm
This exhibit, curated by UT graduate students Charlotte Cousins and Amanda Douberley, borrows its title from one of the more recent and well-publicized attempts to gather all the laws of physics into one comprehensive, easy-to-digest recipe. The superstring theory, unfortunately, is more than half but not quite fully baked; the "Superstring" show from UT's Creative Research Laboratory, however -- presenting new works by nine M.F.A. candidates -- is perfectly cooked and damned tasty.
Any food-service professional will tell you that the presentation of an entrée accounts for a large part of its appeal. Curators Cousins and Douberley make excellent use of the industrially gorgeous CRL space within Flatbed World Headquarters in presenting these explorations of "issues of globalization, communication, industrialization, and the environment." One of these explorations is even rendered as a meal: Young-Min Kang's Spaghetti Western is an enormous mixed-media piece in which a cataract of treated cords like giant spaghetti noodles, spiked with pairs of chopsticks, are suspended above and draping across a rough-cut, oddly textured silhouette of these United States of America. So you've got your strings, literally, via the pasta; you've got your globalization issues addressed through the juxtaposition of an originally Asian food and the country that's assimilated it (with a nod to its Italian translation); and you've got the titular wordplay that increases the impact of the implicit commentary while handily referencing the world of motion pictures.
That last point is further echoed in the exhibit's final display, Kang's Feedback, a pulsating, abstract work of digital video. But, yes, there's more than just Kang on the menu. Jason Buchanan's efforts are represented by two large charcoal-on-paper abstractions that will shatter your preconceptions of what charcoal-on-paper can be and remind you that patterns of negative space can hold as much power as positive and that the difference between the two may be a matter of grayscale's mildest opinion. The oversized inkjet prints produced from photographs by Jennifer Little and Eric Tomberlin will, respectively, immerse you in a deep appreciation of the conduits to local space and remove you, through distillation toward graphic simplicity, from any distinctive sense of place at all.
There are other thematic examples of beautiful (and beautifully precise) communication to be experienced here, from artists Katherine Bash, Brian Bales, Hana Hillerova, Barna Kantor, and Nina Rizzo. All of them, superbly arranged within Flatbed's generous expanse, are worthy of more contemplation than the reasons why gravity remains the wayward child in the otherwise domesticated family of physics. Not to dis the theorizing scientists or anything, but this "Superstring" is something you can really sink your (eye)teeth into.