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High-Tech Spectacle

Jennifer Steinkamp and Sharon Engelstein bring back the big and bold.

Prepackaged virtual reality: Steinkamp's projection tunnel puts the viewer inside the art.
Robert Wedemeyer
Prepackaged virtual reality: Steinkamp's projection tunnel puts the viewer inside the art.

Details

"Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson -- One saw; the other saw"

Through October 28 at Rice University Art Gallery, 6100 Main Street. For more information, call 713-348-6069.

"Sharon Engelstein -- Inflated"

Through November 25 at Glassell School of Art, 5100 Montrose. For more information, call 713-639-7300. (Work from the same series will be on view October 27 to November 24 at Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911.)

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Spectacle has never been cheap. Work that has a dramatic impact usually involves overwhelming production costs. And artists have a much better chance of recouping on sofa-sized oil paintings than on projected environments and gigantic inflated sculptures. Steinkamp managed to borrow four pricey projectors to present an early piece, and although her projects and venues are increasingly well funded, she still draws upon equipment donations and creative financing from time to time. To help defray the fabrication costs of Engelstein's work, friends Monica Pope and Andrea Lazar of Boulevard Bistrot hosted a fund-raising dinner. It was a clever supplement to the usual artist resources of begging, borrowing and credit cards. One more thing, perhaps, to pine for in the collapse of the Soviet Union: state sponsorship.

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