Control can be illusory. But often, chance can be a good thing.

Life's vagaries fascinate artist Liz Rodda.

This week, Rodda formally begins her new job teaching at Texas State University in San Marcos. And by means of an introduction, she has assembled an exhibit of her multimedia work "Altered States" that opens today.

Rodda integrates video, sculpture, installation, photography and painting into her wide-ranging art-making practice, using it all creatively to negotiate the myriad social and intellectual opposites that percolate through life.

"It's very American that we're always preparing for what's next," Rodda says. "But really we're quite fragile and a lot of things are out of control."

Rather formally presented on a white pedestal and under a plexiglass vitrine, "Plan for Victory" is a tiny 20-sided orb of shiny black jade. (It's an icosahedron, a shape with 20 identical equilateral triangular faces.) It's modeled after die typically used in chance-based games. Only "Plan" is bereft of any numbers or symbols or the fortune-telling phrases found on the icosahedrons inside a Magic 8 ball. Perhaps if you give a shake to Rodda's "Plan" any revelation would be undefined, open-ended and possibly up to your own making.

Rodda's charge at Texas State is to begin the art department's program in integrated media, the burgeoning yet unrestrained medium that includes video and new media-based forms of art.

The California native started her education as an English major — seemingly by a chance-like decision — before heading for a graduate degree from the Massachusetts College of Art's interrelated media program.

Now, after a stint teaching at the University of Oklahoma and exhibiting her work internationally, Rodda, 30, claims South Austin as her home base.

"I like Austin's grittiness," she says. "It feels good here."

Juxtaposing seemingly disparate images, Rodda's video "Just the Way You Are" combines found footage culled from the Internet. On one side of the screen we see an awkward teenage boy playing a cheesy 1970s Billy Joel hit on piano. Next to it run clips of teenage girls in private in-home moments doing the splits. All the girls seem equally self-conscious. Yet all were clearly invested in documenting their acrobatic feat for an anonymous online audience. (Rodda simply plumbed YouTube to find footage.)

Teenage angst, the vulnerable nature of human desire and a sense of collective aloneness radiate from Rodda's video.

"You have to wonder if any of (the girls) knew they were actually part of some worldwide network of girls doing the same thing online," Rodda says.

"Chance can be a good thing," she goes on to observe. "Sometimes the things that are unexpected are often more interesting."

Contact Jeanne Claire van Ryzin at 445-3699