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Essential Space

Installations from the top: Brimmed Hats, 2002 - limestone, inside Body Language, 2002 -
paint and carpet by Cameron Schoepp -

Veil, 2002, steel, cloth and wood, 12 x 40 x 6 inches, Ridge, 2002 - wire mesh, 12 x 162 x 6 inches, and Jericho, 2002 - stacked plywood squares, paint and wood, 10 x 28 x 5 feet, by Tom Orr.


ost sculpture shows are about things.

Essential Space at The MAC is about space. Things are in the space, to be sure. But it is the spatial interaction created by the exchange of information between our visions and our minds — not the things themselves — that make this show a wonder to our eyes and brains.

Cam Schoepp's Brimmed Hats are clean shapes with sharp planes, smooth curves and hard surfaces. By themselves they might be worthy of note. But in The MAC's big room on the left, they are surrounded by a supernatural yellow, and softly spectacular. Soft yellow walls surround a soft, yellow carpet. It takes us back, shocks and startles. We need time to adjust to all that yellow. And all that space between.


Gradually, we perceive words, on the carpet — "My Ass" sewn in script, "Liver Lips," "Gutless," "Fat Head" and other epithets letter the walls. Subtly. White on a yellow that's already disorienting, surrounding. Words that echo "yellow" extrapolate beyond the space more than they incorporate or wrap things — like spaces or meanings — up.

Tom Orr's Ridge is a 3-D topographical map of itself. Shining mesh wire interrupts light, forming crosshatched lines and shadows on a pebble textured wall. It's already six inches spatial, but it looks and maps deeper.

His Jericho is a pixilated wall of shimmering gold. It is a thing, interrupted by an idea — "and the walls came tumbling down" — reflecting light out into the space around it. It's an odd thing. Unlike most sculpture, it does not pretend to be something else. It is what it does, radiating light.

But it is Orr's Veil that detaches our retinas, stretches our optic nerves and disorients our intellectual understandings of the dimensional realities of space. It knocks our lights out, figuratively blinding us by interrupting our expectation of a persistence of vision.

We know it's steel rods hanging from the ceiling, waving in the slight breezes we bring in with us, in front of evenly spaced, black and white vertical lines that wrap two walls. We know the sensation disrupting our visual and spatial sensibilities is all in our minds — or, perhaps, lost somewhere in the space between us and art.

But we have to see it to believe it. Don't believe the pictures. They lie, and only hint at the linear and spatial discontinuity. See it, feel it, experience Tom Orr and Cameron Schoepp's Essential Space.

Other Tom Orr sightings: Tom Orr is Awesom, The White Rock Lake Water Theatre and Tom's Flag at Brookhaven debut.