Fugues

By Billy Rubin
Published in Vox Vernacular
Feb. 25, 2014

The term fugue, though ambiguous, is a significant indicator of the character of these large-scale installations. Oursler refers to the cyclical aspect of the musical term, applying it to the editing strategies adopted in these works, as well as to the repetitive quality of the character traits and personal habits that comprise identity. Alternatively, a fugue also refers to a psychological state brought on by mysterious causes and characterized by identity amnesia or nullification, resulting either in reconstruction of a former identity or the formation of a new one. In short, the notion of a transformative quality of looping is at the heart of this project. 

Oursler continues this exploration of relationships and identity formation with Iced, Bound Interrupter, Bitch Cycle and Determinist Dilemma. Struggles between free will, agency, biology and self-stagnation are at play in these works. Iced fuses frigid landscape with iconic personality, matching two related characters: one pop-cultural, the ice queen, and the other mythological, Narcissus. Bound Interrupter is a cascading, snake-like form of shuffling characters under the spell of sunsets and oxytocin, the love hormone and neuromodulator. Bitch Cycle takes the form of a broken loop or string of charms that seems to mediate between two characters, the hiding Man and the falling Ballerina. They are divided by a crumbling wall covered with various signs in painted and animated graphite. Determinist Dilemma is a totem- like structure densely stacking events and a host of characters atop one another. They argue the merits of determinism, volition and chaos, asking if choice is illusory or if all life is preordained. 

Formally, these organic works refer to the structure and schematics of flow charts and diagrams, informing the way that characters are linked sequentially and graphically. A wide variety of materials are combined in these "living sculptures", including found objects, mounted computer prints, colorful blown glass, welded metal and cast resin. Layers of video figures, which serve to animate the work "as though it is some sort of system attempting to reach stasis", inhabit the resulting amalgam, notably printed graphics and painted sculpture. Projected characters haunt scrims, dwell deep inside a transparent sphere and are multiplied by reflective screen shapes produced with dichroic plexiglass and mirrors. Most of these materials have a dual identity and are transformed by the way they receive the moving image. They are neither the video nor the object, but a third thing that "is really made by the viewer."