The EXPERIENCE: IMAGINE
See this new interactive exhibit at ahha Tulsa
In November 2018, I wrote about taking Joss to visit ahha’s The EXPERIENCE. Other than the giant eyeball, we enjoyed it! So I was excited to visit the new version of The EXPERIENCE, The EXPERIENCE: IMAGINE.
The EXPERIENCE, in both iterations, is an interactive exhibit divided into sections, each designed by a different artist. I was so impressed by how many different skills each artist used in order to execute their vision.
The Tempest’s Parallax by Emily Simonds
For example, Emily Simonds’ “The Tempest’s Parallax.” Not only did she design a room to look like a space station, she also wrote a complete story to go along with it. She programmed a computer so that guests could interact with the story, recruiting local actors to narrate their point of view.
Each of the white doors open to reveal a different aspect of life inside the imaginative space station. Lauren Teague Collins, who was gracious enough to give me a tour, said that originally viewers were going to be able to touch all of the items inside the doors. However, due to COVID-19, they are now safely behind plexiglas.
Of course, that’s still a lot of touching, so there is a bottle of hand sanitizer at the exit of the space station, and others throughout The EXPERIENCE.
Woo by Justice David Gutierrez
I don’t know if any of you will be surprised to learn that my favorite section was probably Justice David Gutierrez’s “Woo.” This playful section is a video game-inspired bedroom that walks out into a bamboo forest. The colors alone are so much fun, and there’s even a stuffed cat so adorable, I need one of my own!
According to ahha’s brochure, “Woo is a sensory forward experience based on the feeling of euphoria…Lights guide a path, while sounds build three distinct atmospheres. As Woo progresses, its landscape drifts further from being recognizably human, but closer to a resolution.” I would just be happy having a house this colorful.
Grow by Katherine Hair
I don’t know how intentional this is, but Woo ends in a grid-lined cube of a room, which exits into Katherine Hair’s “Grow,” another favorite of mine. Hair designed giant deer sculptures using branches that had been knocked out of trees. Plus, visitors are invited to paint their own paper “lichens,” adding them to the walls of the exhibit so it changes over time. It’s easily the most peaceful room of the exhibit.
Lauren Teague Collins said that Hair had recorded nature sounds in her mother’s backyard, which adds a really calming auditory element. And there’s another really cool interactive game you can play involving electric fireflies and a moon suspended from the ceiling. But…I’d probably have a hard time describing it, so you’ll just have to experience it for yourself!
Together by Andy Arkley
Your kids (and you!) will love interacting with Andy Arkley’s musical installation. One wall is covered in bright, hand-painted wooden shapes. The opposite wall has a colorful rainbow. In the middle of the room are a series of red buttons. The buttons activate different sounds and light projections, bringing both walls to life.
Because you can’t reach every button simultaneously, this is a great opportunity for family and friends – and even strangers! – to work together to create a new work of art. According to the ahha brochure, “The goal of Together is to encourage the connection that happens between people when they collaborate successfully.” This is especially poignant since we’ve had to spend so much time apart lately! But the work of The EXPERIENCE: IMAGINE shows that, with creative planning, we can still work together even through social distancing.
The Data Miner by Alton Markham
I didn’t do this section justice, but it is the first thing you see when you step off the ahha elevator. Look at all the gorgeous lights! Apparently, you can interact/communicate with this giant computer, but I was a little overwhelmed by everything else there was to look at that I mostly just ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the visual spectacle.
Into the Wormhole by John White
This installation was very cool but kind of hard to photograph with my phone. But essentially, you get to step inside a rocket! Some of the elements were not working when I was there due to recent storms. However, there’s a tesla coil you can work with, a keyboard, and one of those sand boxes with a projector that measures peaks and valleys in the sand. There is also a “black hole” ball pit that lights up and draws you in (which ahha sanitizes regularly!). So of course the kids will enjoy that!!
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Wednesday-Saturday, 12-9 p.m.
Sunday, 12-7 p.m.
101 E. Archer St., Tulsa