Tony Oursler (b. 1957), a native of New York where he still lives, works as a media artist in the genre of installation, painting and graphics. He is also a performance and video artist (since the 1970s) and the inventor of video sculpture (1990s).
Projects by Oursler, celebrated 'video-art romantic', conceal behind an entertaining side-show of talking cushion-sculptures criticism of the modern media-based society that uses mass television and photo output without discrimination. Television and press, video and photographs are defamiliarised by the artist as he exhorts the viewer not to become a pillow-screen for the endless projections and manipulations of the omnipotent media.
The artist's last five projects dating from 2004 to 2008 are now on exhibition in Moscow. Nix as a title refers to a water myth. It's an abstract alchemical exploration of water as a metaphor for transitional psychological states. This work involves two projections one on the floor as well as one on a large three dimensional object, and surround sound. Oursler worked with a team of 3D computer animators to create a perpetually melting figure. The liquid figure evokes a poetic text of the cautionary relationship between the void, as symbolized by water in mythology of the past, as well as present day contamination. Performance by Constance DeJong
Alien and Cloud these are from a body of work relating to the inspiration of outer space in relation to the imagination of popular culture. Inspired by science fiction movies as well as space imaging and high-tech space travel, these characters are both humorous in the freedom that they express in new lifeforms , but also suggest the darker side of human nature with alienation of society's inability to live up to it's utopian aspects. These space creatures embody the alienated as well as the explorer. Alien refers specifically to the movie "The Blob", the Cold War, where as Cosmic Cloud actually uses computer effects and hubble telescope images in equating inner space (the unconscious) with outer space. Performances by Vanessa Carreras, Tracy Liepold, Tony Oursler.
Climax is the personification of an action movie special effect. It relates specifically to Hollywood entertainment and the escapist fascination with the vanquishing voyeuristic impulse. The explosive fireball is a narrative solution in the plot structure of the basic form of Hollywood entertainment, the action film. Through the use of high-tech special effects, the fireball becomes a character in itself, removed from the context of cinema, and enabled to speak. This work incorporates surround-sound and high-resolution graphics projected on two walls as well as a three dimensional object to create an immersive visual. It challenges the audience to think about violence in entertainment and the position of the viewer. Performance by Tony Conrad.
Axe combines video projection with found objects, specifically knives, axes, which seemed to penetrate the screened image of a face. The work becomes an embodiment of a psychological state of extreme duress. This work is the continuation of a series that Oursler began over 10 years ago which explores a poetic interpretation of the psyche.