The Loner, 1980

By Billy Rubin
Published in Vox Vernacular
Feb. 24, 2014

The Loner is a collection of scenarios held together by the gravity of the condition of isolation. Oursler's stated premise is that a unifying story could be told by moving around the planet from one person to the next, showing a connectivity of shared experience. Everyone suffers from loneliness at one time or another, so the protagonist of the video would not be one person, but a series of different people who experience a similar state of mind. Oursler conceived of the Loner as different protagonists sharing the same forlorn, youthful, existential state of mind. The Loner is found in various tragicomic scenarios and locations, such as a bedroom, a park, a drugstore and a bar. Visually the main characters appear in different physical forms throughout, including a rag, a chin, a singer with huge Keane-like eyes, a spoon and a person enveloped in their own clothes. Although the Loner morphs from scene to scene, he retains certain visual characteristics, notably a general rounded form and the color white. Characters shift in age as well as location; at one point we find the Loner is a lost child separated from his mother in a crowd and in the next scene, he is leaving a pickup bar, drunk and rejected. Most of the action takes place before a static camera, although at times the camera becomes an active point of view or a subliminal tool, spelling out the word LOVE. Although Oursler's voiceover dominates most of his tapes, the musical element in The Loner is particularly important, complete with a keyboard-based electronic score by the artist, as well as a song inspired by Alan Vega and the band Suicide. The Loner also features a love poem by the artist's brother Mark Oursler.