Critical Writing Index

Video Presence: Tony Oursler's Media Entities

by Nick Kaye

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Jan. 2008, v. 30, no. 1, pp. 15-30

Tony Oursler's works explore the operation of the video image as well as psychological and perceptual responses by projecting images onto three-dimensional objects, such as mannequins, flowers, and sculptural forms. Furthermore, Oursler's work examines the notion of "presence", working to unsettle the viewer's position. In his seven pieces at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, Oursler bring the painted surface, sculptural elements, and video together in order to interrogate the relationships between spaces and practices and to play with the viewer's position within the work. Indeed, Oursler's "grammar" that he works with is carefully crafted in order to shed light on processes, practices, and spaces. Author Kaye examines several of Oursler's works in order to parse out the mechanics of this "video grammar". Important in Oursler's work is the way in which he plays with the tension between viewer and object, shown quite explicitly in his works projected onto dummies in which the video faces speak directly to the viewer. Oursler's installations also dance the line between the virtual and the real, such as in Underwater (Blue/Green) in which a dummy head is underwater and its video face is gasping for air, seemingly begging the viewer to help and pull the head out of the water. Kaye concludes that Oursler's work begs fundamental questions on the nature of action, identity, and the self in relation to media forms.

ITEM 2008.177 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

The WaitingTony Oursler

Bluerealisation with HeadTony Oursler

Red "Love Hurts" LaboratoryTony Oursler

Life of PhillisTony Oursler

Window ProjectTony Oursler

Crying DollTony Oursler

Underwater (Blue/Green)Tony Oursler

BlobTony Oursler

Getaway #2Tony Oursler

The Influence MachineTony Oursler