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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Tony Oursler

b. 1957, USA

American artist Tony Oursler has been compared to a circus showman. It is not difficult to imagine Oursler as a ringleader of an orphic recital; known for his twisted and ethereal combinations of sculpture, film and technology, his practice has incorporated projections, smoke, puppets, video screens and automatons to examine themes such as UFOs, magic, séances, pseudoscience, camera obscura and mass media. In his Manhattan studio is a collection of over 15,000 objects, publications and ephemera related to the paranormal and uncanny—an accumulation that has fed his hallucinogenic practice. Over the past 40 years, Oursler has become recognised for his inventive works exploring the intersection of technology and the occult.

Tony Oursler earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in the late 1970s, where John Baldessari and Laurie Anderson were teachers and his peers included artists Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Sue Williams and Stephen Prina. He returned to New York after graduating, and his first handmade videos incorporated intricate sets, soundtracks and DIY special effects—works for which he is now considered a pioneer of video art. Formative installations from the 1980s experimented with distorting video images with reflections in mirrors, water and glass in dark rooms. Tony Oursler's early popularity was in part due to the fact he was picked up by Electronic Arts Intermix, a non-profit resource for video and media art. In the late 1980s, Oursler began incorporating social critiques into his works, touching on political and cultural violence, mass media and alienation. In the 1990s, he started to project disembodied facial features onto bizarre surfaces including fabric and smoke. The works were accompanied by layered recordings of voices reciting poetic, irreverent and sometimes nonsensical phrases written by Oursler–his 'sound collage' technique developed into a mainstay of his practice. His works over the next two decades experimented with the possibilities of video sculpture and psychodramatic technological theatre, all the while pointing at the ephemerality of the virtual image.

Tony Oursler's artwork has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world including at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tate Liverpool, documenta 8 in Kassel and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 2016, Tony Oursler's Imponderable (2015–16) was exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the feature-length film told an alternate history of technology by delving into the artist's own archive of objects related to the paranormal. Oursler called the work a '5-D' film as an array of sensory effects such as aromas, vibrations and a 19th-century phantasmagorical device made the experience dramatically immersive.

Harking back to the bodiless facial features of the 1990s, more recently Tony Oursler's art (as seen in his 2016 exhibition PriV%te at Lehmann Maupin) has stemmed from his interest in the pervasiveness of facial recognition technology. LCD screens or iPads are embedded within large, aluminium head-shaped structures and show ultra high-definition moving eyes and mouths accompanied by sound collages, making the actors within seem trapped between technology and real life. Algorithmic points are plotted around the faces, as if recording them in real time. 'Portraiture today', Oursler has said, 'is no longer a chiaroscuro painting or photographic mug shot.' Instead, according to Tony Oursler, portraiture is comprised of the ubiquity of data collected of our beings without our express knowledge or consent: 'It's changed the way we think about ourselves'.

Biography by Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Ghostop by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerGhostop, 2003 Fiberglass, wood, LCD monitor and acrylic paint
77.6 x 71.2 x 6.4 cm
Dep Art Gallery
M·}age by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerM·}age, 2019 Acrylic on cardboard, monitor and micro-computer
53 x 43 cm
Dep Art Gallery
Untitled by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerUntitled, 2008 Mixed media on paper
61 x 48.3 cm
Dep Art Gallery
Ooks by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerOoks, 2004 Collage and acrylic on paper
72 x 57 cm
Dep Art Gallery
Mother Board by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerMother Board, 2001 Acrylic on paper
36 x 28 cm
Dep Art Gallery
Blem by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerBlem, 2004 Collage and acrylic on paper
72 x 57 cm
Dep Art Gallery
nU#m) by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslernU#m), 2017 Acrylic, resin, milled aluminium, LCD screen and media player
133.4 x 94 x 8.9 cm
Lisson Gallery
Reductio ad Absurdum by Tony Oursler contemporary artwork
Tony OurslerReductio ad Absurdum, 2011 Steel stand, projection, mixed media, sound
163.8 x 53.3 x 15.2 cm
Lehmann Maupin

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Tony Oursler, Le Volcan, Poetics Tattoo & UFO at Dep Art Gallery, Milano
Closed
6 April–1 June 2019 Tony Oursler Le Volcan, Poetics Tattoo & UFO Dep Art Gallery, Milano
Contemporary art exhibition, Tony Oursler, Tony Oursler: TC: the most interesting man alive at Lisson Gallery, New York
Closed
29 June–10 August 2018 Tony Oursler Tony Oursler: TC: the most interesting man alive Lisson Gallery, 10th Avenue, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Tony Oursler, PriV%te at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong
Closed
14 January–5 March 2016 Tony Oursler PriV%te Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Rachel Lehmann Ocula Conversation Rachel Lehmann Founding Partner of Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Rachel Lehmann is not only one half of the gallery powerhouse that is Lehmann Maupin, but she is also an international citizen of the world. Lehmann was born in Asmara, Ethiopia, and studied at the University of Fribourg in France. She worked at the legendary Sonnabend Gallery in New York, and was the proprietor of two contemporary galleries in...

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In Related Press

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Art in the dark: Dark Mofo Related Press Art in the dark: Dark Mofo Art Guide Australia : 17 June 2019

Now in its seventh year, Dark Mofo transforms Hobart into a red-hued spectacle of art, food and music. In addition to new Mona exhibitions Mine by Simon Denny, Siloam, Gorillas in Our Midst, and Kirsha Kaechele's Eat the Problem, Dark Mofo's 2019 program pushes a hefty dose of visual art into the nooks and vacant spaces of Hobart's CBD.

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Tony Oursler: Exploring Technology's Dark Arts Related Press Tony Oursler: Exploring Technology's Dark Arts The East Hampton Star : 30 May 2019

For this exhibition, he has been thinking about water and how it has functioned as a vehicle for magical thinking throughout history, from the belief in sea monsters and other early legends to the pseudoscience of water memory used in homeopathic medicine today. Themes of deluge and the environment reveal themselves, and the work explores how...

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Creature Discomfort: Art in the Cycle of History Related Press Creature Discomfort: Art in the Cycle of History Hyperallergic : 2 March 2017

Creature, a thematic exhibition at The Broad, is one of those shows, like the recently opened Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work at the New Museum in New York, whose meanings and context have been jolted, scrambled, and reloaded by the resistible rise of Donald J. Trump.As it so happens, Creature opened on November 5th, the Saturday before the...

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Tony Oursler: Museum of Modern Art, New York and Center for Curatorial Studies, Annandale-on-Hudson, USA Related Press Tony Oursler: Museum of Modern Art, New York and Center for Curatorial Studies, Annandale-on-Hudson, USA Frieze : 13 December 2016

A film and exhibition exploring the artist’s vast collection of images and ephemera relating to illusionism, the occult, photography and unexplained phenomena, Imponderable is an engrossing voyage through the interzone between science and spiritualism. It also demonstrates the ways in which human imagination has reacted to periods of...

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