Lisson Gallery, England
Sep. 3 - Oct. 3, 2008
Lisson Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by the American artist Tony Oursler. The show will use both gallery spaces to exhibit new installations and key earlier works. Oursler's practice explores a complex web of societal constraints and psychological dilemmas. The new body of work developed for this exhibition delves into the real/ fantastic morass of obsessive desires and needs, or the "reason" of the irrational.
The new works in this show conjure these psycho-social fractures in tragicomic fashion. Oversized mundane objects and neurotic activities become agents of internal dramas that defy diagnosis. One highly theatricalised tableau will feature a forest of slowly burning columnar cigarettes, the only audio is the eerie ampliflcation of an invisible smoker's inhalation. For another work, Oursler has created a huge hot-red 'sex' cell phone, on which fingers are constantly dialling up images of found, homemade soft-core videos of sexed-up vixens, yet never connecting. These works follow the artist's signature practice of fusing sculptural forms with video. Other works on show will represent something of a departure, as Oursler experiments with more pictorial modes of video presentation. One work will feature a loop projection of a young woman attempting to drink an impossible amount and becoming a fountain whose flow is reversed through the magic of editing.
Continuing Pop art's exploration of high-low via the magnification of everyday details, Oursler adopts a forensic approach to the current state of consumption in his series High. The artist asserts that one can see day-to-day existence in America as a series of self-regulating states with an abstract goal of "high". Sculpturally, this series illuminates details of fetish objects such as cell phones, scratch cards, cigarettes, ice-cream, and mood-altering medication, by producing iconic resin templates which are animated with video skins. Oursler edits the video, sound and language in a metrical fashion in order to infuse the space with interlocking rhythms of inhaling and exhaling smoke, abrading scratch cards, and droning interior commands.
The line between compulsion and functionality is blurred as individuals tap into electronics, sex, money and medication seeking self-realization and better living through chemistry. Shunning tabloid tales of addiction and redemption, Oursler created this series to explore the possibilities of a new biology replacing the old "hunter/gatherer relationship overlaid upon global, techno- replete civilization". Oursler states, "Reuptake is inspired by the derailed fight or flight syndrome. It is a common side effect in the modern world, a vestigial psycho- somatic phenomenon. Something scares you-say a wild beast. That is known as the trigger, and it makes you want to flee. The body helps out by splashing your brain with hormones such as adrenaline and you run very fast. That works fine in the jungle but today the beast is both highly corporate and personality defining. Triggers are branded, environmental and interiorized; there is finally no place to run. You can't escape the ubiquitous."