Memories of His First Psychedelic Lamp


JULY 15, 2009


In the 1960s, many people were mesmerized by the undulating effects of the lava lamp. Not Tony Oursler, who is now 52 and lives in Manhattan; he was fixated on the motion lamp.

“It was two sheets of acetate cylinders,” he said. “I was 11 years old, and it was my first psychedelic lamp. I liked the physics of it, that heat generates motion.” Both cylinders were printed with images; the heat from the lamp’s bulb turned a fan that rotated the interior cylinder, creating the illusion of movement in the exterior one.

To raise money for the nonprofit group More Art, he decided to make a motion lamp using images of a project he had done for the group with Chelsea school students. The 8-inch lamp is $975, in an edition of 50, at Artware Editions, 327 West 11th Street, (212) 463-7490; More Art receives two-thirds of the proceeds.