Visual Arts

Nathan Carter's Faux Cityscape at Window Into Houston

In a way, it makes sense that Art Attack's phone interview with Nathan Carter took place while the New York City-based artist was holed up in a Chicago airport awaiting the departure of a re-routed flight.

For the past decade, Carter has created and exhibited fictional cityscapes (made from wall reliefs, sculptures and hanging objects) that are sometimes maps and other times a medium that he refers to as navigation diagrams.

"Like if you look at the back of an airplane magazine and you look at the different routes that an airplane might take around the world," says Carter, whose first Texas-bound flight was canceled on his way to install a piece at the Window Into Houston space. "Things that show direction and show some sense of movement of objects across geography."

The Dallas-born Carter started constructing his faux cities, which often reference "ready-made urban systems," while in grad school at Yale for sculpture. From there, he made his installations interactive (in other words, constructions that people could go to and through) in various worldwide galleries, including Esther Schipper in Berlin, Germany, and Palais du Tokyo in Paris, France.

"I've used all sorts of materials," says Carter, "such as wood, plastic, metal, coins, subway tokens, glass, ceramic, wires, string, magnetic cassette tape, radio parts, found things that fall off the bottoms of cars, rock and stones."

Carter explains that his Always Vocal on the Interboro Crosstown Local piece for Window Into Houston -- a Blaffer Art Museum project that's housed in Jim Petersen's space at 110 Milam -- will be "a specific visualization of the sounds someone might hear in the city. And when I say city, I mean a place like New York. Not a sleepy city but a ripping city."

To pull that off, Carter will install the entire diorama in basically one day from a box of materials that he's shipped to Houston as well as objects that he's bringing with him on the airplane.

"From far away, it will appear to be a two-dimensional image but when you get up close, you'll realize that the objects are floating in space."

Nathan Carter's Always Vocal on the Interboro Crosstown Local will be featured at the latest exhibit for Window Into Houston, 110 Milam. The opening reception is scheduled to take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, February 3. Admission is free.

The exhibit remains on display through April 20 and can be viewed 24 hours a day. For more information, check out the Blaffer Art Museum Web site.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen