Diamond Head, 1977

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

Diamond Head sketches a portrait of banal, middle-class family life in stark black and white, spray paint and clay. The tape opens with "She" coming of age, looking for lovers, all of whom "She" rejects until the right "He" catches her eye. The attraction is stylized, crude and comical. The episodes that unfold are symbolic, tongue-in-cheek, paranoid and romantic. Humanity stands nearly helpless as fate and our subconscious, cultural assumptions follow us to the grave. A shuffling cast of anthropomorphizations struggle to coalesce as identifiable characters, such as clay fetal children, a diamond-shaped cardboard cutout "She" complete with sparkling diamond teeth, a spray-can Salesman and a burning hairpin Girl. Oursler's cardboard scenarios offer microcosms of our own reality. A series of rather loosely linked, chronological events form a life scheme, a literally moving image or drawing containing dramatic components. Each vignette is a kind of generic, refracted scenario, a possibility the viewer is asked to accept or reject, such as marriage, an aneurysm, loss of beauty or material lust. In an uncanny locomotion of scrap materials, subsuming themes of family, courtship, shopping, sudden illness, greed and mishap query values and meaning. Oursler strings these fragments together by way of an associative entrance into to his material.