Million Colors, 2006

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

In 2006, Oursler was commissioned by the state of Arizona to create a permanent public work in a convention center in a newly revitalized area of downtown Phoenix. The work is projected in four spaces throughout the enormous generic, utilitarian meeting-place. 

While researching this project, Oursler discovered that locals boast the canyons and desert are graded in more than a million different colors. Aurora sightings and surrounding mountains evoke the lawless and anarchic past of American culture, abandoned goldmines and violent desperadoes of the Wild West. Near Suspicion Mountain, where temperatures reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, mirages are everyday occurrences. These distinct visual elements generate vivid accounts of UFO sightings and industrial-military conspiracy theories. Oursler steeped himself in the allure of the place and tried to give voice to the arid desert landscape. Narratives unique to the mysterious desert are reflected in the spoken texts of the installation, and the resulting collage of scripts performed by Arizona locals and immigrants is an attempt to let the colorful sedimentary history speak for itself.