Catharine Clark Gallery presents Urbanism: 3 Animations, an exhibition of video work by the Brooklyn-based artist, Rob Carter. On view October 25, 2015 – January 2, 2016, Carter’s exhibition features three videos: Sun City (2013), Metropolis (2008), and Foobel (2005). Carter’s stop motion animations, portraying the politics of nature and architecture through the lense of history, pair purposefully with the concurrent exhibition of Sandow Birk’s drawings and prints, Imaginary Monuments, on display in our main galleries.
Rob Carter’s multidisciplinary artworks (which include installations, time-lapse and photography) often concern humanity’s perpetually unfolding relationship to the natural world. Works in the exhibit explore specific historical developments in architecture and the impact of our buildings on landscape and society. Using stop-motion animation, the past, present, and future are visualized through paths of urban expansion, deconstructing cultural and corporate practices such as tourism or sport. Works like Metropolis (2008) manifests Carter’s ability to suggest the malleability of what may seem indestructible and permanent. In this single-channel video, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina transforms through real and fictional aerial still images chosen and created by the artist. From its stark beginnings as a Native American trading path in 1755, Charlotte metamorphosizes into a hubristic future-city, filled with skyscrapers and sports arenas. Ultimately, Charlotte’s monuments of steel and glass succumb to the sylvan landscape. Made entirely from images printed on paper, the animation represents an accelerated version of an urban planner’s dream. Charlotte, on this trajectory, is vulnerable and frail, however concrete it may feel on the ground today.
Like Sandow Birk’s Imaginary Monuments, in which fantastical and imagined architecture pay homage to an ideal, Carter’s Sun City (2013) plays out a set of imagined values for the town of Benidorm, Spain. The work’s premise is the real transformation of Benidorm over the last 50 years: from sunny, sleepy, fishing village to tourism boomtown. The fantasy portrayed is that the sun, not the demands of people, is responsible for the growth of this polestar. Carter’s stop-motion animation describes the growth of the buildings as if they evolved like plants, grown by the sun itself. Finally, this living town is transformed into something far more valuable than a tourist destination. Benidorm is a machine for harnessing the sun – the ultimate solar power station, where energy value trumps that of beauty or pleasure.
Carter lampoons the global obsession with sports in Foobel (An Alternative History) (2005), a brief and absurd history of the evolvement of the stadium as an architectural form. Though Carter cites the ill-conceived plan to build at JETS stadium on Manhattan’s West Side as the original inspiration for the film, Foobel is a direct response to the social and political wrangling over similar projects all over the world. The need for bigger and bigger stages for sport eclipses everything else—with the associated greed, obsession, and thrill portrayed in Biblical proportions.