American video and installation artist. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts, completing his BFA in 1979. His early video work consisted of single-channel videos that used painted sets and a form of hand-puppet theatre. These early videos often used a fragmented narrative that set the themes for Oursler's later work; alienation, media manipulation and a postmodern fragmented consciousness. His discovery of liquid crystal display projectors allowed him to project an image into a spatial dimension. In 1994 Oursler made the installation, Judy (artist's priv. col. , see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 55–71), that explored multiple personality disorder, establishing an artistic repertoire of discontinuous voices and interior states. Frequently combining spoken text, moving image and sculptural object, Oursler's works seem like animate effigies in their own psychological space, often appearing to interact directly with, or confront, the viewer. Signature works have been his talking lights, such as Streetlight (1997; shown as part of the Münster public sculpture project, see 1998 exh. cat., p. 60), his series of video sculptures of eyes with television screens reflected in the pupils, and ominous talking heads such as Composite Still Life (1999; artist's priv. col., see 1999 exh. cat., p. 91). An installation called Optics (1999; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 97–101) examines the polarity between dark and light in the history of the camera obscura. Oursler creates installations that consistently disturb and fascinate to great popular and critical acclaim.
Tony Oursler: Dummies, Clouds, Organs, Flowers, Watercolours, Videotapes, Alters, Performances and Dolls (exh. cat., ed. F. Malsch, Frankfurt am Main, Portikus, 1995)
Tony Oursler—My Drawings (exh. cat. by B. Balkenhol and others, Kassel Kstver., 1997)
Tony Oursler: Videotapes, Dummies, Drawings, Photographs, Viruses, Light, Heads, Eyes and CD-ROM (exh. cat., ed. E. Schneider; Hanover, Kstver., 1998)
Tony Oursler, Introjection: Mid-Career Survey 1976–1999 (exh. cat., essays D. Rothschild and others, Williamstown, MA, Williams Coll. Mus. A., 1999)
10 December 2000