MMPI, 1991

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

MMPI is an acronym for "Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory." The notorious psychological test, introduced in 1939 in the US and later restructured in 1989, is widely in use today and is considered to be the gold standard for psychological assessment. It is ostensibly an egalitarian test used to diagnose the entire spectrum of psychological states from normalcy to deep psychosis. The test was designed to use a simple true-or-false response system. Oursler appropriates this test to confront and call upon the viewer to take a position, while at the same time highlighting its poetic nature. This strategy carried through much of Oursler's work at the time, which is preoccupied with psychological states and the use of installations as a method of testing the viewer. He also used variations of this test and wrote numerous alternatives in later works, mostly in his installations involving dolls and dummies.