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For several months, Georgie Friedman has been collaborating with a couple of friends in Oregon who've been launching high-altitude balloons bearing cameras into the stratosphere. Now the Jamaica Plain artist finally debuts this aesthetic research in her show at Carroll and Sons.

Above the Clouds screens each evening until 10 pm in the 12 windows of the Carroll and Sons and Anthony Greaney galleries along Harrison Avenue (through February 26). It's not clear exactly what you're seeing, but there is footage of the curving blue horizon between atmosphere above and earth below captured by the spinning balloon camera. This becomes a too simple blue blur, but the panoramic installation itself is a marvel and gives the curious sensation that the glowing Earth and space are contained inside the building.

Friedman's works can be breathtaking in video installations with sharp, specific footage. In some recent exhibits, however, she hasn't nailed that electric combination of footage and presentation. Her walk-in wave at last winter's DeCordova Biennial was a cool installation, but the watery footage projected onto the structure felt too simple and abstract. Her geyser video at Boston College during the 2009 Boston Cyberarts Festival screened sharp footage on mundane monitors.

Here, Seas and Skies, which wowed viewers as an installation at her MFA thesis show at Tufts in 2008, screens on a monitor inside Carroll and Sons. It's a split-screen shot: clouds slowly drift by on top while waves roll below. The waves regularly crest and crash with a stomach-turning roller-coaster drop. It's obvious that these are separate shots, but Friedman has a knack for sharp juxtapositions that make the two feel like one. The footage is cramped on a modest-sized monitor, but the kinetic contrast between the slow clouds and the quick waves is striking. And the rigid line dividing the two looks like the edge of the world.

Denise Marika of Brookline, another one of our premier local video artists, knows how to create visceral, symbolic actions. Her show at Axiom in 2007 projected footage of what seemed to be a body wrapped in a shroud rolling down stairs with a gut-wrenching thump, thump, thump. This image of the shroud-wrapped body, which appears again in her new show at Howard Yezerski Gallery (through February 8), reflects her concern with massacres and genocide, from the Holocaust to South America's desaparecidos to Pol Pot's murderous Cambodia.

The main event here is Marika's 19-minute video Effaced 1. Hands knead clothing in a bucket of what looks like purple dye. (Marika's idea is that washing the clothing just gets it more soiled.) In another shot, words flit atop rolling waves: " . . . people fled the people fled the people fled . . . " That's followed by an abstract shot of what turns out to be sand. A booted foot kicks a body, unrolling it out of a shroud and dumping it into beach surf. Nine persons in white clothing root around among broken branches on a dirt hill. They seem to hurl red pigment at one another; then more red pigment followed by white and black is flung onto the group from outside the camera frame. It reads like gunshots and blood. The footage of the body and the rooting group are charged, but the images don't add up to more than the sum of their parts.

Marika's video Conversations, screened on a monitor, trades symbolic action for an impressionistic montage of recent documentary footage of people pulling up plants from what look to be muddy rice paddies combined with a bit of similar vintage black-and-white farming footage and sequences of people moving boulders. The images, all from Cambodia, include vintage shots from the era of Pol Pot's massacres. John Holland's soundtrack of throat singing, animal howls, and cute ditties is unsettling, but the images don't identify themselves as being from Cambodia's "killing fields," and so it's not clear why we should feel such foreboding about what looks like typical rice farming.

Back at Carroll and Sons, New York artist Sheila Pepe fills the two main galleries (through February 19) with Common Sense Boston, a giant cobweb of black rope, knotted shoelaces, and various shades of crocheted blue yarn. It has faint goth echoes of Eva Hesse, but mostly it reads like a fun kids' spider-web-climbing gym. This is one of three string-and-yarn exhibits in the area right now, and the one that most reflects how the bad-ass attitude injected into knitting by Stitch 'n Bitch and the like has made traditional fiber crafts cool again.

Paris-based Sheila Hicks was a major figure in the fiber-art renaissance of the '60s that pushed textiles toward sculpture, but she's often overlooked by histories of post-war art. "Sheila Hicks: 50 Years," organized by guest curator Joan Simon for the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover (through February 27), is billed as her "first major retrospective."

Having studied with Bauhaus color theorist Josef Albers at Yale and been inspired by the indigenous weaving of South America, Hicks switched from abstract painting to weaving in the 1950s. Placemat-sized weavings, animated by the changing directions in her patterns, feel like homey, rough-hewn versions of Minimalist grids. Banisteriopsis (1965-'66) transforms Minimalism's serial repetition into a maximalist pile of brilliant bound gold-and-green strands that in cross-section resemble a pile of flowers.

Sometimes Hicks falls into the oatmeal blandness of 1960s and '70s macramé and knitting magazines, as in her wall pieces for corporate offices. But the art comes alive in Lianes Nantaises (1973), which resembles long, bound, Rapunzel tresses of wool, silk, and raffia flowing from ceiling to floor. Such tall, cascading pieces in rich, muted indigos, pinks, and oranges look like crosses between dreadlocks and mangrove trees; they radiate a mysterious humanity and wonder.

"Fred Sandback: Sculpture and Works on Paper" at Wellesley College's Davis Museum (through March 6) is a mini survey of one of the canonical Minimalists. Here are six of his signature yarn sculptures — which well predate the Stitch 'n Bitch phenomenon — featuring lines stretched taut along gallery walls and in the spaces between. They resemble geometric drawings floating in thin air.

In one 1980s artwork, two designs bridge a corner of the room: a horizontal red-yarn line and, above it, a yellow-yarn rectangle missing its top line. Your mind craves to complete the rectangle. A wall piece in black yarn from the mid 1980s looks like a horizontally stretched letter H or some sort of mathematical symbol. Untitled (Sculptural Study, Broken Triangle), from 1989, outlines a three-story-tall triangle.

Sandback (1943–2003), who grew up in New York state and spent time in New Hampshire, displays pure devotion to the Minimalist faith of focused attention on the subtle relationships among simple, often industrial objects, the viewer, and the space they share. So if you're tuned in, he seems to outline a force field with a 1968 trapezoid outlined in gray yarn stretching between the gallery wall and floor. If you're in the right Zen state of mind, you could dream up much from these simple yarn lines, but it's all so arid and feels so much like mathematical equations that I tend to resist his spell.

Museum And Gallery