Artpace San Antonio, Oct 25,2007 – Jan 20,2008
For his exhibition at Artpace, Carter has created several new bodies of work. Augmented by a selection of earlier objects, it offers the first occasion for the artist’s practice to be viewed over a period of time extending back to 2002. The show opens with a group of thirteen airships, a project from 2006, in a formation that leads visitors up to the Hudson (Show)Room. Along the way, Artpace’s conference room has been colonized by three new pieces that constitute a concise statement of Carter’s current work: an oversized collage, a complex wood relief, and a monochromatic sculptural drawing in steel. Each of these works indicates the artist’s reliance on the discipline of drawing, whether linear or modular. In TRANSATLANTIC RADIO AND VISUAL SIGNALS FOR BLACKED OUT HEAVIES(2007), a successful example of the recent introduction of photography into his work, the combination of collage and line results in a composition that is structurally comparable to the wood relief IMPROVISED PIRATE RADIO ANTENNA (HANDMADE KITCHEN UTENSILS) (2007) and the sculpture MILAN SUBSTATION THROWING SIGNS SIGNALING DOLOMITE WEATHER DISTURBANCE (2007). In all the works, dense cacophony and brevity coexist in a fragile state of detente.
The installation in the Hudson (Show)Room offers a broader perspective on how Carter’s work has evolved. The earliest piece in the show, THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD HAS FOUND A NEW WAY THROUGH THE SNOW (2002), is the first wood relief the artist ever made. In it one senses a tentative quality that implies experimentation and discovery, both formal and structural. Compare this object to the virtuoso ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCE BARENTS SEA WHERE DID ALL THESE BIRDS COME FROM? (2007), the artist’s most ambitious relief, whose lyrical quality and formal clarity announce his command of the medium. Equally heroic in scale is TRAVELING LANGUAGE MACHINE WITH #3 FREQUENCY DISRUPTOR AND DISINFORMATION NUMBERS STATION (2007), which was made at Artpace. A tangled web of steel, forged and bent into a three-dimensional line drawing, it exemplifies the artist’s tendency to improvise: things conceived to fit together often get slightly remade during their installation, placing them in a constant state of potential reconfiguration or improvement.
Carter’s work takes a new direction in the group of three makeshift radio devices and the assemblage
of found and altered readymades that comprise COVERT CATASTROPHIC INCIDENT KIT (2007). References to emblems and commercial signage found in his earlier projects have now given way to their direct incorporation. The photograph here is almost a blueprint of how these pieces might be assembled and used. And the double view of art and technology as equally rough and ready practices is both ironic and absolutely serious. It forms the balanced Yin and Yang that lies at the
core of Carter’s work as an artist.