The Experience at AHHA Tulsa: Step Into The Portal

BY Lily Heritage

Have you ever wanted to journey into an alternate reality, with surreal sounds and neon flashing lights? Step into the portal at AHHA Tulsa, the new exhibit at the Hardesty Arts center. You might’ve already seen pictures of this otherworldly place, but believe me, there is so much more to see, touch, and hear.

My Sunday afternoon consisted of questioning my reality. Walking into the intentionally-rusty building, I was greeted by a jolly, hipster-esque man who told me that there was a fee to get in. I rummaged through my wallet, praying I had $7. I did! Up the elevator I went, on my way to experience The Experience. Upon entering, the atmosphere changed dramatically. There was no sunlight, no windows, just neon lights and music (more like strange sounds). The first thing you see when you walk in is a projection of geometric shapes, shifting and changing on a purple and blue background. Geometric figures seem to be a theme here, as to the left of the projection is a large, neon blue and green, geometric thing. It has eyes; it’s almost like a monster, but less threatening.

As I looked further into the exhibit, I saw a huge projected eyeball looking at me through the space-like corridor. It was off-putting, but I’m guessing that was the point. I hadn’t seen anything like this before in Tulsa. The hallways were also geometric (surprise!), and they were something I would expect to see in a futuristic spacecraft. With the eyeball still stalking me, I turned to find yet another hallway with more weird music. Supposedly this hallway tracks your facial expressions and clothes with cameras to choose something to project. As I walked down the hallway, the projection changed from lights to tropical trees and animals with bird noises playing in the background (I’m assuming it’s because of the flower shirt I wore that day).

There was a desk to stick gum on. Let me elaborate. They had a desk flipped upside down, a free gumball machine, and a sign saying to chew up the gum and put it on the desk. It was probably the grossest but definitely the coolest thing in the room. I did my duty to the exhibit and chewed some free gum. I delicately wrapped it around the legs of the desk. It was beautiful.

The Experience was everything I expected, but all of this was just the tip of the iceberg. A mannequin lady with thundercloud hair, weird animal based music videos, and interactive rooms are waiting for you at AHHA. In my opinion, it was definitely worth the $7 and the drive. The Experience is meant to evoke genuine emotion: curiosity, excitement, even a touch of fear. It did all of those things for me, and I will be returning to take some artsy Instagram pictures.

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The galleries are open Wed-Sat from 12-9pm, and on Sunday from 12-7pm. You can buy your tickets online, or pay at the door. Visit their website to learn more.

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