TONY OURSLER’S MEDIA SYSTEMS
By Naomi Barling
Tony Oursler is famous for his innovative combination of video, sculpture, and performance, which explores the relationship between the individual and mass media systems with humor, irony, and imagination. From April 29 – June 14, 2015 Lehmann Maupin will be housing his most recent works in an new unnamed exhibition.
Born in New York in 1957, Oursler completed a BA in fine arts at the California Institute for the Arts in 1979. At CalArts, he studied alongside the likes of Mike Kelley, Sue Williams, Stephen Prina and Jim Shaw under John Baldessari. He then moved back to New York in 1981 and was picked up by the gallery Electronic Arts Intermix.
His works cover a range of mediums: video, sculpture, installation, performance and painting. Some of his most recognized works are homemade videotapes including The Loner (1980), and EVOL (1984). These pieces involve elaborate sound tracks, painted sets, stop-action animation and optical special effects. His early installations were immersive dark-room environments with video, sound, and language mixed with colorful constructed sculptural elements. In these projects, Oursler experimented with methods of removing the moving image from the video monitor using reflections in water, mirrors, glass and other devices. For example; L-7, L-5, exhibited at The Kitchen in 1983, used the translucent quality of video reflected on broken glass.
Oursler will present several large, aluminum panel works in abstract shapes that resemble and human face, each coated in a different reflective, metallic surface. They have all individually been embedded with video screens depicting mouths and eyes. These visages also bear the marks, nodes, and geometric patterns of facial recognition mapping. One of the artist’s intentions is “to invite the viewer to glimpse themselves from another perspective, that of the machines we have recently created.” His main focus has been on how the human body uses its corporeal mechanisms, especially the face and head, to express identity and project emotions. Here he presents an interesting visual insight into how human psychology, and mankind’s increasingly refined imitative technologies are merging.
From April 29 – June 14, 2015 Lehmann Manpin will be showing Oursler’s most recent work.