David Steele Overholt's In One Ear ... is electrically engaging 

click to enlarge QUIT NGUYEN
  • Quit Nguyen

As the house music begins to thump and churn, Joey, Chandler and Ross appear on the screen. The beat intensifies, synthesizers swell and Joey morphs into a Storm Trooper as graphics from an old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial flicker across the walls of their familiar Manhattan apartment.

By the time the song hits its throbbing crescendo, viewers see the Tootsie Pop owl, Al and Peggy Bundy, McDonald’s slogans, the Hostess logo and images from Roseanne all interlaced and overlapping old sitcom clips like some pop culture acid dream.

It’s called In One Ear …, and it’s the newest interactive exhibit from DJ and new media artist David Steele Overholt on display through Sept. 2 at Oklahoma Contemporary Showroom, 1146 N. Broadway Drive.

Overholt, who teaches interactive arts at Kansas City Art Institute, uses “found, purchased, gifted and stolen materials (both physical and virtual) to create installations, sculptures, videos and other engaging experiences.”

For In One Ear …, Overholt chose more than 200 video clips, mostly from the 1980s and ’90s, to evoke a little Generation Y nostalgia among those raised in front of the TV.

Overholt said he’s primarily interested in stretching boundaries between art and technology, and he seems to be blurring those boundaries quite successfully. Making good use of his master’s degree in interactive telecommunications from New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, he has created a kaleidoscope of overlapping and interlaced video clips showcasing memory-lane staples like Seinfeld, Saved by the Bell and Full House.

Overholt and Oklahoma Contemporary have also managed to commandeer an entire radio frequency for the exhibit. Viewers can tune to 99.9 FM in Oklahoma City and listen on their ear buds to hear the corresponding soundtrack to the video art.

In One Ear … is just as much technical exercise as art exhibit. The show is a complicated collaboration between the selected video and music and custom software that edits the visual and audible experiences with a randomized music playlist. The show runs through Sept. 2, but no single set of layered images will be seen twice. The stream of images and radio playlist are presented in a random order every time; patrons can say their viewing was a one-of-a-kind experience.

During prime time (7-11 p.m.), the video is projected onto the gallery’s windows, presenting an “alternative version of the family living room.” The same video and audio are visible inside the showroom throughout the day, but with the help of a webcam, the exhibit becomes interactive, even personalized. Viewers are able to temporarily insert themselves into the videos, adding yet another layer to an already complex and beautiful visual experience.

Visit oklahomacontemporary.org.

Print headline: Immersive artistry, David Steele Overholt’s In One Ear ... exhibit blends video, sound and interactive elements for a truly engaging art experience.

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