Tony Oursler

16 October 2021

Albion Barn is delighted to present, in collaboration with Lisson Gallery and the artist, three works by Tony Oursler which will be displayed in the trees around Albion Fields on Saturday 16th October from 7pm until midnight. 

Two works, AWGTHTGTWTA? (Are we going to have to go through with this again?) and Linda (Influence Machine), work with projection, playing with the son-et-lumiere format. Also included are four works from Oursler’s Talking Light series, which illuminate the landscape, bathing it in waves of light and language. These works are engineered by the artist to synchronize the brightness of the bulbs in direct correspondence to the voice recordings emanating from them. In an unsettling show of light and sound, the pieces will move from séance to video game to command.

Oursler produced his first Talking Light in the early 1990s. Existing as a complete reduction of his practice, the work features only sound and light, considered by the artist as “the essence of media.” These elements transform and anthropomorphize the surrounding landscape, waxing and waning in response to the voices being produced. Creeping and receding in a play of light and shadow, the bulb’s burning intensity not only affects the environ, but the eye as well. The four Talking Lights range from the early 1990s to today and represent the artist’s varied interests and poetic writing styles, exploring the themes of hypnosis, artificial intelligence, environmentalism and facial recognition. They feature performances by Tracy Leipold, Jim Fletcher, Holly Stanton as well as Oursler.

Dislocated from place and time, Linda (Influence Machine) is excerpted from Oursler’s iconic installation now in the collection of Tate, which premiered 21 years ago in London. The work is a contemplation on technology’s relationship to spirituality. This work is one of Oursler’s first outdoor projections intended to illuminate trees and buildings in urban centers and is perpetually ephemeral and hallucinogenic in affect. Influence Machine has toured the world in the 20 years following its debut, most recently at Oursler's first museum solo show in Asia, ‘Black Box’, a retrospective at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. Influence Machine forms an immersive environment with a running score made in collaboration with Tony Conrad. As the work oscillates between morse-code, pre-cinematic light shows and television, he explores a ‘shadow history’ of telecommunication, exploring mystics, inventors and pioneers. Influence Machine works as a conduit and intermediary that channels, receives, and transmits.

AWGTHTGTWTA? (Are we going to have to go through with this again?) is a single channel video intended for architectural projection and was made in collaboration with the students of Clinton Middle School and Liberty High School. Oursler worked with students in the English as a second language program to explore the power of social media and the nascent technology of YouTube. The video captures students singing in chorus and dissonance about their dreams and desires, intercut with found footage culled from the Internet. The work explores the addictive and exploitive qualities of the ubiquitous screen in an attempt to foster creative uses of technology. The way the work shifts between play, technology, and childhood almost seems whimsical, but there is an edge to AWGTHTGTWTA’s engagement with digital technology.

Tony Oursler lives and works in New York, NY, USA. Born in 1957, he graduated from the California Institute of the Arts,Valencia, CA, USA and collaborated on early works with artists such as Mike Kelley. His museum exhibitions include Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (2021); Musée d’arts de Nantes, Nantes, France (2020); GuildHall, East Hampton, NY (2019); Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2017); Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art, Stockholm, Sweden (2016); Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, USA (2016); Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2016); LUMA Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2014); Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2014); Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine (2013); ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2012); Helsinki City Art Museum, Finland; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (2005); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2001); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2000) and Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (1998). In addition to participating in prestigious group exhibitions such as documenta VIII and IX, Kassel, Germany (1987 and 1992), Oursler’s work is included in many public collections worldwide, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, USA; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; National Museum of Osaka, Japan; Tate Collection, London, UK; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands and ZMK/Center for Art & Media, Karlsruhe, Germany.