Overscan Filters Everyday TV Into Abstract Collage

Overscan from Sosolimited on Vimeo.

Sosolimited is a group of Boston-based Creators that consistently demonstrates their mastery at elevating media ephemera into statement-making art. Their latest public project, Overscan, certainly doesn’t disappoint.

An expansion of Set Top Box, a project Sosolimited unveiled at the Shanghai Biennale in 2010, Overscan starts with an ordinary live TV stream, and distorts its components into vaguely recognizable abstractions of text and graphics. We viewers are presented with five television screens in a row: the leftmost displaying the original feed as the following screens grow progressively more expressive, manipulating the raw data of the broadcast in interesting ways to create new meanings. While the original project involved more 3D visualization, this year’s iteration sticks closer to the source content.

Sosolimited explain their openFrameworks-based work:

Custom software looks for patterns in the video, such as faces, and maintains a memory of what it has seen. The text of the closed caption feed is extracted and analyzed with language processing software. Certain words, such as emotional language and selected topics, are highlighted and recorded.

This continual deconstruction, involving progressive delays and word collages, develops into a statement about our real-time mental filtering of the media we passively receive.

Another important element that emerges in Overscan is its context. The screens are set up in Firebrand Saints, a Cambridge bar and restaurant. It’s interesting to note that this is a setting in which Sosolimited’s work is likely to be an element of the background, rather than an exhibition standing on its own as it might be in your typical white cube gallery. Are our Creators saying that it’s easy to ignore the latent messages that materialize from popular media?

Culling art from unlikely elements, Sosolimited’s project allows a constantly droning point of reference to intrigue us with unique visuals and typography. TV’s never looked so challenging.