ART IN REVIEW; 'Second Sight'

March 22, 2002

Hunter College Times Square Gallery
450 West 41st Street, Clinton

Through April 20 ''Second Sight'' is an art school graduate show times two, in which five Master of Fine Arts candidates at Hunter College -- Rob Carter, Sian Foulkes, Casey Ruble, Allyson Spellacy and Lynn Sullivan -- have chosen works by the program's alumni of the last decade. Such collegial tributes usually feel merely dutiful, but this one doesn't. Several of the artists chosen are already familiar in the larger art world, and the work they show here would be interesting in any context.

At the top of the list comes a video by Omer Fast, a young New Yorker who is also in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Titled ''CNNconcatenated,'' the piece is a rapid-fire stream of isolated words, phrases and vocal ticks edited from tapes of anchors and commentators on thousands of television newscasts, with the sound bytes edited together to produce a startlingly personal spoken rumination on the fear of mortality. Conceptually, there are connections to the labor-intensive editing work of Paul Pfeiffer (who is in ''Second Sight''), but Mr. Fast's work here, as in the biennial, is distinctive and impressive.

Contributions to the Hunter show by other artists also look good. They include Diana Cooper's fragile Rube Goldbergian reliefs, handwrought sound-and-light ensembles by Paul Johnson and John Roach's Fluxus-inspired kinetic assemblages. Elizabeth Simonson's abstract patterned murals make an eye-tickling foil to Wade Guyton's shrewdly obtuse, mirrored sculpture. Alex Villar and Jillian McDonald keep performance in the picture, the latter with regular on-site appearances at the gallery. So does Cheryl Donegan with a painting-made-torturous video and Oliver Herring with a video-as-painting.

Mr. Herring is best known for his 1990's soft sculptures woven from small, interlocking strips of reflective Mylar and tape. His recent videos continue this incremental approach. Pieced together frame by frame from countless shots of studio-posed models, they add up to a stop-motion animation in which changes in movement and color seem at once jerky and magical. In one piece at Hunter a man's head becomes a shifting Mondrianesque play of chromatic geometry; in another his torso seems to burst spontaneously into decorative flower.

In his current solo at the Max Protetch Gallery in Chelsea, ''Little Dances of Misfortunes'' (through March 30), Mr. Herring expands this format to include a team of models wearing dark clothes and phosphorescent paint who perform in pieces of video choreography.

With a tinkly score and figures nude and clothed appearing and dissolving, the effect is both primitive and sophisticated, sexy and childlike, bringing to mind James Lee Byars, Buster Keaton, Diaghilev and the bargain-basement brilliance of Ethyl Eichelberger, Mr. Herring's longtime muse. It's all very much in the handcrafted, start-from-scratch mode that is gaining many adherents now, particularly in film, but which this artist has been exploring for years.