313 Art Project, Seoul, South Korea
Nov. 7 - Dec. 8, 2012
Oursler's first solo exhibition at 313 Art Project presents a diverse collection of new works including 1 large scale installation work, 4 micro works, and a suite of paintings with moving images. In a special window installation, designed for 313 Art Project, Oursler presents three of his iconic and colorful Splatter paintings.
The term fugue, though ambiguous, is a significant indicator of the character of these large-scale installations. Oursler refers to the cyclical aspect of the musical term, applying it to the editing strategies adopted in these works, as well as to the repetitive quality of the character traits and personal habits that comprise identity. Alternatively, a fugue also refers to a psychological state brought on by mysterious causes and characterized by identity amnesia or nullification, resulting either in reconstruction of a former identity or the formation of a new one. In short, the notion of a transformative quality of looping is at the heart of this project.
Oursler continues this exploration of relationships and identity formation with Iced, Bound Interrupter, Bitch Cycle and Determinist Dilemma. Struggles between free will, agency, biology and self-stagnation are at play in these works. Iced fuses frigid landscape with iconic personality, matching two related characters: one pop-cultural, the ice queen, and the other mythological, Narcissus. Bound Interrupter is a cascading, snake-like form of shuffling characters under the spell of sunsets and oxytocin, the love hormone and neuromodulator. Bitch Cycle takes the form of a broken loop or string of charms that seems to mediate between two characters, the hiding Man and the falling Ballerina. They are divided by a crumbling wall covered with various signs in painted and animated graphite. Determinist Dilemma is a totem- like structure densely stacking events and a host of characters atop one another. They argue the merits of determinism, volition and chaos, asking if choice is illusory or if all life is preordained.
Formally, these organic works refer to the structure and schematics of flow charts and diagrams, informing the way that characters are linked sequentially and graphically. A wide variety of materials are combined in these "living sculptures", including found objects, mounted computer prints, colorful blown glass, welded metal and cast resin. Layers of video figures, which serve to animate the work "as though it is some sort of system attempting to reach stasis", inhabit the resulting amalgam, notably printed graphics and painted sculpture. Projected characters haunt scrims, dwell deep inside a transparent sphere and are multiplied by reflective screen shapes produced with dichroic plexiglass and mirrors. Most of these materials have a dual identity and are transformed by the way they receive the moving image. They are neither the video nor the object, but a third thing that "is really made by the viewer."
These worlds need to be observed closely to see and hear the activity within the small-scale, sculptural elements. This series of micro installations reveals complex, miniature domains populated by tiny figures that "embody poetically-layered thought patterns." Roughly the size of a cranium and often displayed at head height, each of these works is a contemplation on "aspects of relationships and the implicit existential struggles unfolding within." Inspired by ontological operations of memory, the works suggest the aggregation of past experience into one moment: the present. In other words, consciousness is formed by referencing myriad characters and situations from one's past. The sketchy veracity of memory dictates a skewed cast of characters, some mere ghosts, others frozen in time or action. Yet they remain, informing the viewer's every decision. These microcosms are memory constructs made physical in flotsam and jetsam. Onto the material precise images are projected, forming a stage for the characters to mingle with each other and address the viewer.
Each world is an amalgamation of materials and painted color fields, inhabited by tiny flowers, crystal balls, caves, gems and all manner of found objects. In this landscape, the light-projected figures are complemented by numerous carved, cast, polychrome figures and animals, suggesting a mnemonic relationship. Oursler developed a cast of stock characters that are "somewhere between thought and memory." Orator, manager, tightrope walker, thief, fool, lover, family, interrogator, explosions, drunken dancer, bullet, crawler, clown, poet, death head, hobo, devil and businessmen-a cast of projected light figures from disparate origins illuminate and colonize these worlds. Although there may be clusters of talking heads herein, many of the performers combine physical gestures and actions such as hammering, falling, spinning, running and signaling, as they speak.
The figures are combined with other elements using computer composition with as many as a hundred layers in a single projection beam. The resulting locomotions suggest a chain reaction and interconnectivity. The looping, interlocking actions are at once comical and sad, suggesting unbreakable habits and Rube Goldberg-like systematic self-regulation as they play across the varied and detailed surfaces.