On the Unit 2 Road Show

Practical growth for arts duo Steve Zieverink and Lou Larson, better known under their pseudo-scientist tag Unit 2, means displaying their debut kinetic sculpture installation in a cramped hallwa

Steve Zieverink and Lou Larson's "Being and Non-Being" fills the Carnegie Center's main gallery.

Practical growth for arts duo Steve Zieverink and Lou Larson, better known under their pseudo-scientist tag Unit 2, means displaying their debut kinetic sculpture installation in a cramped hallway inside a Camp Washington factory building. They've made inventive use of the sliver-like space that's usually divided into artist studios. The work will shift to a slicker, higher profile Oakley retail gallery. They've also recently displayed the piece at the popular avant-garde gallery space once called SSNOVA.

Zieverink and Larson's latest installation piece, "Being and Non-Being" — a massive industrial sculpture that bunches their signature experimental sound elements, rhythmic moving parts and metal shop aesthetic — is currently at the Carnegie Visual + Performing Arts Center in Covington. The show, also titled Being and Non-Being, fills the Carnegie's wide-open main gallery.

The two center sculptures comprise their new work, and there's a re-installation of a previous piece, "Kinetic Opposition," a series of five kinetic metal sculptures that resemble the frames of futuristic milling machines. Grouped together, the work provides a mesmerizing timeline of Zieverink and Larson's collaborative life together.

Zieverink and Larson's creative growth, something that's more difficult to appraise than, say, exhibition attendance, is evident by the streamlined beauty of "Being and Non-Being." This installation is as engaging, polished and creative as anything at area museums.

For arts watchers lucky to follow Unit 2 throughout their area shows since their November 2001 debut, the latest work reveals an arts team that's leaped forward in maturity, vision and technique.

"Being and Non-Being" looks stark in its streamlined exterior and simple design of two gigantic white fiberglass globes, measuring 5 feet in diameter, dangling from large metal structures that resemble oversized pendulums.

A tangle of wires and sound mixers beneath the polished metal structures reveals the handmade craftsmanship inherent to the artwork. "Being and Non-Being" rises from a pile of intentional sloppiness that's strangely comforting.

Looking at the mess, you understand that a human hand, not some assembly line robot, is responsible for the machine-like pieces filling the Carnegie's roughhewn room.

Zieverink is a classically trained visual artist who studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He produces two-dimensional work in addition to his Unit 2 sculptures.

Larson is a musician, best known for his work with several experimental groups — Sound Research Project, Slant and 3-Legged Stella. His musical training helped create the recorded sound elements that enable "Kinetic Opposition" and "Being and Non-Being" to interact with viewers as well as each sculpture.

The installation is dynamic, and the cacophony of sounds fills the space with hums and whirls.

While I miss the pigskin and animal fat from Unit 2's debut installation, I'm amazed by their precise use of steel and hand-blown glass. The result is a unique marriage of unlike materials akin to metal-shop-meets-pristine-laboratory.

Ask Zieverink and Larson about their work, and Larson tends to overreach with obtuse philosophical explanations. Yet it's worth noting that youth, fashion and street credibility never come up in their conversation.

Zieverink and Larson aim to make artwork that's timeless, and they're speeding in the right direction.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.