Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Parallel Universe exhibit at ARTECHOUSE is a surreal technological marvel

The first solo exhibit for the Turkish studio Ouchhh drew massive crowds

Parallel Universe exhibit at ARTECHOUSE is a surreal technological marvel

ARTECHOUSE, located on 1238 Maryland Ave. SW in Washington D.C., recently held an exhibit by the Turkish studio Ouchhh called “Parallel Universe.” A total of four separate pieces in adjacent rooms, the installations used projectors and a cacophonous soundtrack to immerse the attendees in a multisensory adventure.

Running from Jan. 14 - March 4, "Parallel Universe" was an immersive, mesmerizing experience that conjured emotions of awe, fear and excitement. It was simultaneously visceral and beautiful, fabricating comprehensive displays of sight and sound that captured the attendees' eye. 

After being led down a flight of stairs by an ARTECHOUSE employee, the employee told each group about the significance of the installation and gave them a background on the creators and the exhibit itself. Once the main doors opened, visitors could lounge in the oversized bean bag chairs near the staircase of the exhibit or indulge in the Augmented Reality cocktail bar serving either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages.

Inspired by science, mathematics and astronomy, “Parallel Universe” encouraged visitors to take in their environment. As the spiraling black and white images were projected onto the walls, the blaring music made it hard to hear yourself think. Guests of all ages spread out against the walls of the large first installation, clearly taking artsy Instagram photos.

In the adjacent room to the right, a half sphere akin to R2-D2’s head sat on the ground, reflecting the attendees’ image back to them while projecting smaller replicas of the first exhibit around the dome.

Finally, the hall on the far left lead you to a room where only 20 people could experience the ARTECHOUSE-exclusive exhibit at a time. The display’s exhibitor explained that the installation is “meant to show how humans take aspects of space and transform them on Earth, like the Great Pyramids and Orion’s Belt.”

Opening to a side room, an inverted pyramid sat in the middle of the room with projectors attached to poles dispersed in columns. Also filled with bean bag cushions, an employee warned the guests about the multisensory experience before it began. When the music started, the projectors followed the intense beats and rhythms, similar to more abrasive house or electronic music. Stationary lights on the pyramid turned on and off at various speeds, also following the music.

This smaller presentation took place over seven minutes, but the intimate sensory overload lingered when it ended. Due to the ferocity of the final exhibit, the exhibitor suggested easing into standing up.

Admittedly underwhelming, “Parallel Universe” is not for everyone. Going into the museum, we expected a more immersive and interactive experience rather than watching projections onto the walls, which could be seen from the ceiling. Lacking substantial thematic goals and overbearing scientific connections, the viewer is left unsure what connections are supposed to be made. Repetitive imagery appears in all three of the rooms without much explanation to the relations of the individual spaces.

ARTECHOUSE describes itself as an “innovative art space,” according to its website, without any mention of being a museum. The minimalist element plays a significant role in the “Parallel Universe” showcase since the audience is meant to experience the exhibit rather than just see it. Overall, “Parallel Universe” provided a singular experience with overwhelming audio-technical elements.


bermer@theeagleonline.com and kplewis@theeagleonline.com


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