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Review: A Building with a View: Experiments in Architecture 

Local artists explore soundscapes, cyberspace and psychological dimensions at the CAC

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Filling all the Contemporary Arts Center's (CAC) exhibition spaces, this huge 40th anniversary exhibition features more than 50 artists, including some CAC founders as well as emerging talents. Inspired by city life, it harks to Anarchitecture, a 1970s art movement that included Louisianans Tina Girouard and Richard "Dickie" Landry as well as Laurie Anderson and Gordon Matta-Clark, who became famous for carving old buildings into sculpture. The dizzying diversity of these works can be overwhelming, but they all relate to the built environment. Songs of Home Songs of Change (pictured) by Jebney Lewis, Rick Snow and Christopher Staudinger features curved metal platforms laced with elongated brass horns. Pulsing with enigmatic dronelike resonances, it is both a sound map of New Orleans and a musical instrument that could accompany the sounds of the city. On the wall, three techno-totems by AnnieLaurie Erickson actually are sculpturally framed photographs of computer circuits used to disseminate the vast seas of data we now inhabit like so much human plankton.

  More techno-abstractions appear in Nurhan Gokturk's tornadolike sculpture crafted from shredded vinyl LPs, and in Jan Gilbert's abstract geometric collages cobbled from sliced, diced and reconstructed photographs of building facades. Existential gravitas infuses Ted Calas' German Tea series of lyrically austere cafe paintings, but intriguing randomness defines the public spaces in Cecelia and Jose Fernandes' photographic diptych Anita, even as vintage reveries are conveyed via land line in Monica Zeringue's psychically fraught Twilight collage. Upstairs, we are reminded that the sea is rising and America is sinking in Robert Tannen's maps of Gulf Coast counties now facing inundation. But Manon Bellet's wall-size Breve Braises abstraction segues that sense of loss into an "ashes to ashes" modality in which ashes of burnt silk crumble and fall inexorably to the floor. Years ago, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote eloquently about how the spaces we inhabit affect us, and vice versa. This show extends the boundaries of habitation to sonic space, cyberspace and beyond.

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