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Concurrent Rhythms in a small space 

Keeping an eye on ambitious gallery

Since its August 2011 opening, the Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte's Center City Building has presented a dizzying array of stuff: a temporary mural by local artists, a cross-disciplinary performance/installation by faculty members, a video project by an international artist, the crowd-pleasing Violins of Hope, and now Concurrent Rhythms, a collection of digital works and projects from the College of Arts + Architecture.

On opening nights at Projective Eye, lectures, demos and music performances spill over several floors of the building. The work is serious, but the environment is festive and casual.

Concurrent Rhythms' opening was true to form, presenting the combined efforts of d-Arts, which fosters digital collaboration among the departments of the COA+A; Digital Art Mob, a student group in the Department of Art & Art History; and Fresh Ink, the college's alt-classical/new music initiative. In conjunction with Fresh Ink, architecture students Trevor Hess and Taylor Milner and faculty member Chris Beorkrem created several pieces that responded, in real time, to the musicians as they performed works by Steve Reich and David Lang. Behind the musicians were projected images; downstairs in the gallery was an inkjet printer that spit out patterns onto a 20-foot-long continuous loop of paper, resulting in a dense, undulant field of green ink, a visual expression of the relentless, haunting music.

In contrast to the works in which sound generated imagery was "Music to our eyes," by architecture alumnus Sam Walker. In this interactive installation, architecture graduate student Mikale Kwiatkowski painted live as a robotic arm, equipped with a small camera, captured her movements and translated them into music.

You can see the remains of the above projects in the gallery and lobby; however, they lack text explaining their purpose, so even though they still have a good deal of allure, a viewer who was not at the opening will likely find them puzzling.

For the duration of the exhibition, you can also see archival inkjet prints, animations and videos, a sound sculpture, and graphic design projects. These are all chockablock in the space, so at the moment it looks more like a lab than a gallery.

Perhaps the most successful of the works on display is "Linear Echo" by architecture students Steven Danilowicz and Alison Schaeffer. This soundscape consists of speakers mounted on a platform; at each end, microphones dangle from the ceiling. People speak into the mics and the sounds travel down the row of speakers, resulting in the echo of the title — a phenomenon Danilowicz nicely describes as "bowling for sound."

The Digital Art Mob works that caught my eye are Ryan Montroy's inkjet print series "Vices, Illogical Desire," in which a seemingly self-propelled drilling hammer smashes wine glasses and beer bottles; Amanda Markham's amorphous and eerie inkjet prints; and Brandon McCarty's "The Fallout," a Flash animation tale of survival and self-destruction.

With a few exceptions, Concurrent Rhythms is a student show. While showcasing students in the school's premier space and subjecting them to public scrutiny is an appealing idea — after all, there's nothing like the terror of public exposure to focus an artist's attention — Projective Eye seems a bit too small for this kind of effort. Student shows, even selective ones like this, are varied in nature. They need a little room to sprawl so the diverse works don't compete with one another.

In addition, the gallery space, which is a bit narrow and has a sloping ceiling, seems most suited to performance and installation. It will probably take a few more exhibitions and some tweaking to figure out how to best display standard 2-D and 3-D work.

In its first, hectic year, Projective Eye Gallery set some ambitious goals that it had to meet quickly, so it's still a little rough around the edges. But as the gallery matures, I hope it retains some of the loosey-goosey, restless energy it has demonstrated so far.

The exhibition Concurrent Rhythms will be on display through June 6 at the Projective Eye Gallery, UNC Charlotte Center City Building, 320 E. 9th St. (at Brevard). http://coaa.uncc.edu. 704-687-0833.

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