Water Shredder (Waste Deep)


Kansas City Art Institute H&R Block Artspace
Kansas City, MO

Hardware (including: plywood, vinyl mural, USB mini paper shredder, push-button switch, AC/DC converter, thermal receipt paper, crown moulding, and more)

Narrow Margins: 2011 KCAI Faculty Biennial

A single-button interaction with a wall-mounted piece gives the audience the ability to choose how much waste to produce.



Jordan Stempleman on David Overholt

Just a day before seeing David Steele Overholt’s piece for the first time, I was reclining in a dentist chair receiving my first teeth cleaning in two years thanks to my wife’s new job. I’ve been going to this dentist for years, staring at the wall across from me for years. A wall that is wallpapered in Kodachorme, a pastoral scene of a natural clearing in a forest, a mountainside somewhat off in the distance, the earth frozen at midmorning, early fall.

After my students write their personal essays, I always end up comment ballooning beside this or that narrative about terrifying downfalls, or a turkey that exploded from their grandfather’s shotgun when they were first taken hunting, when they were seven, the following phrase: This is the moment when you need to stop time. That is, this is the moment when the narrative must be paused so the reflective sensibility, the tunneling, as Virginia Woolf (via Proust) so called it, can begin to make sense, breathe into the event that so shaped or shook the student into needing to return to this significant event once again. This is what art so often does: holds off time. It creates the point of arrest that allows for its audience to be taken into it; to momentarily wind down, break free from the speed of the arguing world.

In Water Shredder (Waste Deep), David not only creates this stasis, but then snaps us out of it—stops time both in the nostalgic sense—yet then reminds us that our wallpaper is torn, used, left alone in some evacuated dental office or forgotten in some apartment where the bachelor is now married or fully ashamed. Above us, there’s that skittish shredder that whines loudly, that moves and frantically spins a roll of white adding machine paper into a tangle of unwritten, uncalculated accountability—a passage of time we’re now asked to resume, reenter, as the time comes when we dare press that little red button. I couldn’t help but to feel this unforced release when I held down on that button. A trance interrupted. A reminder of how manually operated our bodies can be when faced with something that seizes us before we push ourselves towards our release.

Process, Installation, and Show Pictures: